Youth Aid Panel (YAP)
A Youth Aid Panel (YAP) is a diversion program designed to keep juveniles between the ages of 10-17 who have committed certain low-level, non-violent crimes out of the juvenile justice system, affording them a second chance. Successful completion of YAP means that a juvenile will not have a record for that offense and will not have to go to District Court or Juvenile Court.
Juveniles who appear before YAP are usually first-time offenders willing to take steps toward correcting their actions. The Panel primarily handles cases that meet specific criteria:
- The juvenile committed an act that has violated Pennsylvania law or a local ordinance;
- The juvenile does not dispute the facts described in the allegation, citation, incident report, etc. If the juvenile intends to deny involvement in the incident or assert innocence or mitigating factors, participation in a Youth Aid Panel is not appropriate;
- There is an agreement between the arresting police department, the Police Liaison Officer, and the District Attorney that the juvenile will benefit from a settlement that does not involve the court system of Chester County;
- The juvenile agrees to participate in the Youth Aid Panel.
Because YAP is a non-adversarial proceeding, an attorney may not represent the juvenile. Anything disclosed during the YAP proceedings about an offense – including admissions of guilt – cannot be used against the juvenile if the case is later returned to District Court or Juvenile Court.
Panel Members represent a qualified group of a local community’s residents who serve as a counseling and advisory body for the individual cases brought before it. Members of YAP are appointed by the Police Liaison Officer, in consultation with the Chief of Police and the YAP Coordinator, following a careful screening process. YAP members are volunteers and must complete five hours of YAP training and Mandated Reporter training.
DAO-supported YAP programs run in Coatesville and regionally in Northern Chester County (NCCYAP), including law enforcement from East Coventry, North Coventry, East Pikeland, East Vincent, West Vincent, Owen J. Roberts School District, Pa. State Police, and Spring City. The DAO is expanding YAP to other areas around Chester County in the coming months.
For more information, please contact YAP Coordinator Michelle Bjork at [email protected].