2023 Legislation: Youth Diversion

HB 3186 (Authors: Leach; Garcia; Morales Shaw | Sponsor: Zaffirini), Relating to youth diversion strategies and procedures for children accused of certain fine-only offenses in municipal and justice courts and related criminal justice matters; authorizing fees. HB 3186 [known as “the Texas Youth Diversion and Early Intervention Act”] requires each justice and municipal court to adopt a written plan that diverts children accused of a misdemeanor punishable by fine only (other than a traffic offense) to diversion services for up to 180 days, rather than face formal criminal prosecution. Eligible children must be between the ages of 10 and 16 and have been charged with or convicted of an offense under the jurisdiction of a justice or municipal court. However, children who have had a previously unsuccessful diversion or whose prosecutor objects are not eligible for this type of diversion, and a child who does not comply with the terms of a diversion agreement will be referred to court for a hearing.  

This bill authorizes courts to designate a Youth Diversion Coordinator to assist with implementation. Diversion strategies include: requiring a child to participate in relevant programming (including court-approved teen court programs, school-related programs, alcohol or tobacco awareness and drug education programs, rehabilitations programs, and self-improvement programs); referring a child to a service provider; or requiring a child to participate in mediation, submit to drug and alcohol testing, and/or comply with a course of treatment prescribed by a physician or mental health professional. Strategies may also include requiring a child by court order to: pay restitution not to exceed $100; perform not more than 20 hours of community service; or any other reasonable action determined by the court.  

General youth diversion plans must be maintained on file for public inspection in each justice and municipal court. Specific diversion records are confidential. Effective on 1/1/24 

During the 2023 session of the Texas Legislature, the Texas Center for Justice and Equity tracked around 40 youth and adult justice bills that made it to the Governor's desk. You can find links to all of our analyses in our 2023 Bill Analysis Guide.