The members of the Upper Dublin Police Department understand the challenges surrounding risk-taking behavior among today’s youth. Therefore, the department is committed to promoting the fair and compassionate treatment of juveniles who may come in contact with the criminal justice system. Accordingly, we recognize our obligation to advocate accountability among minors while simultaneously advocating for collaborative opportunities between youth, their parents or guardians and the police.
By balancing the use of community-based programs and educational approaches, we strive to establish a proactive approach to juvenile delinquency. Thus, recognizing the negative impact that exclusively punitive measures can create for juveniles prompts us to seek alternative approaches.
Furthermore, the department acknowledges the developmental distinction between juveniles and adults which warrants a consideration of proportionate measures in juvenile cases. As established in the Supreme Court case of Roper v. Simmons, “immaturity,” “impulsivity,” and “susceptibility” must be considered in juvenile delinquency cases.
With the overall well-being of minors in mind, we are committed to appropriate intervention and collaboration with school officials and juvenile advocates with status offenses such as truancy and family-oriented problems. We will coordinate our response for the care of dual-status youth involved with both the child welfare and juvenile justice system. Ultimately, we will strive to safely and effectively divert non-delinquent youth from the formal juvenile justice system.
Montgomery County District Attorney’s Youth Aid Panel (YAP) Program
The Youth Aid Panel (YAP) Program has been giving juveniles a second chance to have a clean criminal record since 2000. In its 20-year history, the program has helped more than 10,000 juveniles, ages 10 to 17 (or age 18, if a current high school senior), avoid a criminal record by going before a panel of local, trained volunteers and taking responsibility for their actions. Through the involvement and support of local community volunteers and assigned interventions, community Youth Aid Panels hold juveniles accountable for their actions with conditions that focus on community responsibility while facilitating positive outcomes.
The YAP Program is an alternative to having a juvenile charged with their criminal infraction and having the matter handled in Juvenile Court. Successfully completing YAP means the child won’t have a criminal record that can be found through background checks routinely done by colleges and employers. The program is also designed to help juvenile offenders avoid future contact with the juvenile justice system through the involvement and support of local community volunteers, who serve on the more than 40 active Youth Aid Panels across Montgomery County.
Referred to YAP: What to Expect
- The arresting police officer will talk with the parents/guardians and youth about the YAP Program.
- The police department will send the child’s YAP referral to the District Attorney’s Office.
- The child’s case will be assigned to the Youth Aid Panel in the community where the offense occurred.
- The parents/child will be contacted by the Panel Chair to schedule the required full-Panel meeting, which both the adults and child will be required to attend.
- During the Panel meeting, the child will be given an opportunity to explain the circumstances leading up to the offense.
- The Panel will give the child assignments – called resolutions – in the form of education, restitution and/or community service and a timeline for completing them.
- Once all assignments are completed, the child will meet with the Panel for an exit interview before the case is closed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is there a cost for the youth to participate in the program?
A: There is no cost to youths or families for participation in the YAP program; however, certain offenses may result in the requirement to pay restitution.
Q: Do we have to appear in court before a judge?
A: No. The Youth Aid Panel Program takes the place of the criminal charges being filed and the need to appear in Juvenile Court before a Judge. The child and parents/guardians will have to appear before the assigned Youth Aid Panel, which is a group, typically of 5-6, trained adults from the community where the infraction occurred. And they will make assignments – called resolutions – that the child will need to complete in a set period of time.
Q: Does my child need a lawyer?
A: No, your child does not need a lawyer to participate it the YAP Program, which is an alternative justice program. However, if the child fails to successfully complete the program, the original criminal charges will be refiled and then you may want to consider retaining a lawyer.
Q: What should my child say on a job application that asks if they have a criminal record?
A: If your child successfully completes the YAP Program, your child does not need to disclose on a job application that s/he went through YAP if the application asks about having a criminal record. Preventing youth from having a criminal record is the primary goal of the program.
Q: Will there be a public record of my child participating in YAP?
A: The YAP meetings are confidential, and there will not a recording of the proceedings. The District Attorney’s Office does maintain records for who participates in the program and successfully completes the program, however that is not accessible to the general public.
If you have a questions concerning the Youth Aid Program, please contact Siobhan Klinger at firstname.lastname@example.org.