CN, a 15 year old boy in the 9th grade at a local well to do Essex County high school, was in a dating relationship with 14 year old girl. In the fall of 2014 CN and the girl were “making out” According to the girl, CN stated that it would be fun to have rough sex and he scratched her on the back and hit her three times in the stomach. She told him to stop and she says that he did not. About one month after this incident the girl stated that she and CN had sexual intercourse. Word of this was spread to the school authorities who in turn notified the police. The police interviewed CN. CN told the police that he had never gotten physical with the girl and that the scratches had been an accident when he held her too tight. The police re-interviewed the girl. She stuck to her story and showed the police photographs of the injuries she allegedly sustained from CN. In addition she told the police that when she and CN would make out he would call her names like slut. Lastly the girl showed the police text messages from other girls stating that CN did the same things to them.
The police filed an application for a juvenile complaint for assault and battery against CN in the Essex County Juvenile Court. CN’s parents retained Attorney Robert Lewin from North Andover to represent CN. The application for complaint was scheduled for a hearing by the Clerk-Magistrate of the Juvenile Court. Attorney Lewin immediately contacted the police prosecutor and the coordinator of the Juvenile Diversion Program and advocated for CN’s case to be “diverted” out of the Criminal/Juvenile Justice System. The Essex County District Attorney’s Office runs a Juvenile Diversion Program. The purpose of the program is to allow a juvenile – in an appropriate case – to avoid having a criminal/juvenile record. If a juvenile is accepted into the Juvenile Diversion Program, the Juvenile Court Proceedings are suspended, no arraignment tales place, and no criminal/juvenile record is created. Upon successful completion of the Juvenile Diversion Program the criminal/juvenile charges are dismissed without any arraignment having taken place and no criminal/juvenile record is created. Because of the nature of the allegations made by the girl the police were hesitant to recommend diversion and actually wanted CN to be prosecuted in juvenile court for the alleged assault and battery. Attorney Lewin explained to CN and his parents that the case had to be prepared as if it were going to go to trial, but at the same time efforts to get the case diverted would continue. Attorney Lewin had several meetings with the police prosecutor and the Juvenile Diversion coordinator and advocated zealously for the case to be diverted.
On December 10, 2014 CN and his parents and Attorney Lewin appeared in Lawrence Juvenile Court. Attorney Lewin had had CN enroll in counseling with an adolescent counselor prior to the court date and Attorney Lewin had secured a favorable report from the counselor. At the hearing the Police were still somewhat reluctant to wholeheartedly endorse diversion, but they did not oppose it. The Clerk-Magistrate said she would recommend the case for diversion, but that the Diversion Coordinator would have the final say as to whether the case would be accepted into the diversion program. Because there was an allegation of boyfriend/girlfriend abuse everyone in the “court system” was reluctant to let the case go into diversion. Ultimately the Diversion Coordinator agreed that CN would be a good candidate for diversion and the case was accepted for diversion. CN is in the diversion program now and is doing well. The diversion program is designed to run for four to six months. It typically includes the Juvenile writing a letter on better decision making and – in a case of domestic violence – it almost always includes a program of counseling on teen dating violence.
As a result of CN’s case being diverted no criminal/juvenile complaint was issued against him, he did not have to appear in Court before a judge, and no criminal/juvenile record was created. CN and his parents were extremely happy with the result. The key to this result was not giving up on diversion. Attorney Lewin kept advocating for diversion from his first conversation with the police prosecutor until the his final conversatoion the the Diversion Coordinator.