Recognizing the benefits of pre-arrest diversion, the Florida Legislature directed each circuit to adopt a circuit-wide agreement on juvenile pre-arrest diversion as part of SB 1392, which made substantial revisions to section 985.12, Florida Statutes. The revision also broadened the language from 'civil citation' to pre-arrest diversion program.
- Each judicial circuit is required to adopt a circuit-wide juvenile pre-arrest diversion.
- Programs are created by agreement among the circuit’s state attorney, public defender, clerks of court, and law enforcement agencies.
- New circuit-level programs may be modelled on “existing sheriff, police department, county, municipality, or public or private educational institution’s independent pre-arrest diversion or similar prearrest diversion program in developing the pre-arrest diversion or similar prearrest diversion program for the circuit.”
- Existing programs can continue if the state attorney determines they are consistent with the circuit's agreement.
Statutory restrictions on eligibility have been removed.
- Youth admission of offenses is no longer a pre-requisite to eligibility.
- There is no cap on the number of times a youth may be diverted before arrest.
- Data reporting requirements for both program operators and law enforcement agencies have been added.
- Required data includes demographics, offense details, and justification for the arrest of eligible youth.
While local circuits continue to have vast discretion in designing their local programs, including determining eligible offenses, limitations on eligibility, and programming, the change to circuit-wide agreements will move toward more standardization and limit justice by geography. It will take advocacy, however, to ensure best practices are implemented throughout the state.