Teen Court

Teen Court

About Teen Court: Teen Court is a diversion program designed for misdemeanor juvenile offenders who have no prior court record. Youth ages 6-18 make restitution for their offense through community service and educational opportunities. The program is designed to inform offenders about the court system, provide an alternative to traditional court, and allow the defendant to explain their involvement in the offense.

A peer jury works as an excellent diversion tool for offenders. The constructive sentence, handed down by peers, strongly states that breaking the law is not acceptable behavior. The Teen Court process begins when the Coordinator receives a referral from the Juvenile Services Intake Counselor or District Court. Once the case is deemed appropriate for Teen Court, the juvenile and his or her guardian shall be contacted. An intake interview will be conducted to explain program guidelines and ensure confidentiality. Participation in the program is voluntary and based on the understanding that the juvenile must admit guilt. Upon successful completion of all Teen Court requirements, the criminal charge is dismissed.

Who Is Teen Court? Teen Court is made up of student volunteers from area high schools. Student volunteers serve as prosecuting attorneys, defense attorneys, jurors, bailiffs, and as clerk of court.  Any student in grades 9-12 is eligible to participate.  An adult presides as the judge, with other adults serving as jury monitors and exit interviewers.

Who Benefits and How?

Juvenile defendants benefit by:

  • Admitting their guilt, serving their constructive sentence, and having their criminal charge dismissed.
  • Having a second chance to become a valuable member of the community.

Student Volunteers benefit by:

  • “Hands-on” experience in our legal system.
  • Learning how to work together as community members in the democratic process
  • Being able to look into future career possibilities.

The Community benefits by:

  • Having a would-be criminal get an early look into what breaking the law can lead to saving thousands of dollars in both juvenile and adult court expenses.