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Juvenile Division - Prosecuting Attorney's Office

Learn more about how the Prosecuting Attorney's Office works with the juvenile justice system.

The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office strives for a juvenile justice system that sets a national standard for progressive and innovative approaches to handling juvenile cases. In recognition that juveniles are different than adults, a separate and distinct Juvenile Division was created in 2017. The Juvenile Division is tasked with carrying out the duties of the prosecutor in a manner consistent with the purposes of the Juvenile Justice Act (JJA) which include providing for:

  • Punishment commensurate with the age, crime, and criminal history of the juvenile offender,
  • The rehabilitation and reintegration of juvenile offenders,
  • The handling of juvenile offenders by the communities whenever consistent with community safety.

Our team is made up of 8 senior deputy prosecuting attorneys working along fifteen staff members. Deputy prosecutors in the Juvenile Division take a balanced approach in the handling of juvenile cases to include consideration of victim input, respondent rehabilitation, community safety, and how decisions impact equity and social justice outcomes. We also embrace effective alternatives to formal court processing when they better meet the needs of victims of crime and improve public safety.

Learn more about Juvenile Court Services

Safer Schools Strategy

The PAO’s “Safer Schools Strategy” is a coordinated approach that brings together school district leaders, teachers, police, prosecutors, and community resources to prevent tragedies and support safer schools for all King County children. With a focus on interventions at the student, school/district, and statewide levels, this strategy seeks to make new safety resources available to schools and strengthen the coordination needed to improve school safety.

Learn more about the Safer Schools Strategy.

Diversion and Restorative Justice Programs

Diversion to therapeutic and community-based programs that address root causes of criminal behavior is not a new concept. For decades, state law has mandated that prosecutors must divert certain juvenile cases. Diversion is a proven, effective response to crime that reduces recidivism that costs taxpayers less. In study after study, children prosecuted in juvenile court achieve less success and do more harm than comparable youth who have been diverted out of the formal court system. This is a research-backed, established approach to reducing future criminal behavior, and our county has evidence of this public safety strategy working locally. King County has proven that diversion works to reduce juvenile crime. Police referrals for ALL juvenile crime fell by over 90% over the past two decades. Violent crime committed by juveniles has fallen nearly 70%. This sustained reduction in juvenile crime has coincided with our county’s investment in alternatives to secure detention and community-based diversion programs, like FIRS and RCP. Diversion programs have proven over time to better hold accountable children who commit crimes by addressing the underlying conditions that led them to criminal behavior in the first place.

Learn more on the Restorative Programs in Juvenile Court

Family Intervention and Restorative Services

Family Intervention and Restorative Services (FIRS) offers youth arrested for family violence incidents space at an overnight respite center instead of secure detention. FIRS staff offer de-escalation counseling to safely reunite youth with their family. At no cost to them, families are offered in-home family counseling, mental health services, drug and alcohol services, and the Step-Up Program, which specifically addresses adolescent family violence.

Before FIRS began in January 2016, youth and families had to go through the formal court process before they could access services such as the Step-Up Program. Now families engage with the FIRS team immediately and receive services within days of the incident that brought them to court. Historically, juvenile domestic violence had constituted a third of juvenile detention bookings. Youth were booked into detention for domestic violence more often than any other offense and, in nearly 90 percent of these cases, the violence was against a family member.

Inspired by a similar program in Pima County, Arizona, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (PAO) Juvenile Unit Chair Jimmy Hung and PAO Legal Services Manager Stephanie Trollen spearheaded efforts to change legislation and team up with partners that made the program possible. 

FIRS is now a partnership between the King County PAO, King County Superior Court, the Department of Public Defense, the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention, the Department of Judicial Administration, the Prosecuting Attorney, and the City of Seattle.