(a) Before a juvenile petition is filed for activity proscribed by article eight-a or eight-c, chapter sixty-one of this code, or after probable cause has been found to believe a juvenile has committed a violation thereof, but before an adjudicatory hearing on the petition, the court or a prosecuting attorney may direct or allow a minor who engaged in such activity to participate in an educational diversion program which meets the requirements of subsection (b) of this section. The prosecutor or court may refer the minor to the educational diversion program, as part of a pre- petition diversion and informal resolution pursuant to the provisions of section two-a of this article; as part of counseling provided pursuant to the provisions of sections three or three-a of this article; or as part of the requirements of an improvement period to be satisfied in advance of an adjudicatory hearing pursuant to the provisions of section nine of this article.
(b) The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals may develop an educational diversion program for minors who are accused of activity proscribed by the provisions of article eight-a or eight- c, chapter sixty-one of this code. As a part of any specialized educational diversion program so developed, the following issues and topics should be included:
(1) The legal consequences of and penalties for sharing sexually suggestive or explicit materials, including applicable federal and state statutes;
(2) The nonlegal consequences of sharing sexually suggestive or explicit materials including, but not limited to, the effect on relationships, loss of educational and employment opportunities, and being barred or removed from school programs and extracurricular activities;
(3) How the unique characteristics of cyberspace and the Internet, including searchability, replicability and an infinite audience, can produce long-term and unforeseen consequences for sharing sexually suggestive or explicit materials; and
(4) The connection between bullying and cyber-bullying and minors sharing sexually suggestive or explicit materials.
(c) Once a specialized educational diversion program is established by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals consistent with the provisions of this section, the minor's successful completion of the educational diversion program shall be duly considered by the prosecutor or the court in their respective decisions to either abstain from filing the juvenile petition or to dismiss the juvenile petition, as follows:
(1) If the minor has not previously been judicially determined to be delinquent, and the minor's activities represent a first offense for a violation of section three-b, article eight-c, chapter sixty-one of this code, the minor shall not be subject to the requirements of said section, as long as he or she successfully completes the educational diversion program; and
(2) If the minor commits a second or subsequent violation of article eight-a or eight-c, chapter sixty-one of this code, the minor's successful completion of the educational diversion program may be considered as a factor to be considered by the prosecutor and court in deciding to not file a petition or to dismiss a petition, upon successful completion of an improvement plan established by the court.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2015 Regular Session
The WV Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.