“Providing Youth Second CHANCES”
Teen Court is a program targeted at first-time offenders and designed as a type of deferred program for the children meeting certain eligibility requirements. In order to be eligible for the program, the teen must admit to a misdemeanor or lower charge. Many of the Teen Court participants will be referred from the Juvenile Probation Office. The court session meets out a constructive sentence before a judge through a process utilizing teenage attorneys and jurors, giving a true definition of “jury of your peers.” Constructive sentences will include community service hours, jury terms, workshops, and essays. Each case brought before the jury will be different, as will the sentences. Once the sentence is completed, there is no evidence of the offense in the teen’s record effectively giving the teenager a second chance to be a model citizen. The idea is to target those who, with some encouragement, have the best chance of staying out of future trouble.
TEEN COURT PARTICIPANTS
As with any program, success depends on the commitment of those involved. The participants in the Teen Court program are predominately teenagers. The program utilizes teenage attorneys, teenage/college interns’ bailiffs, teenage/college interns court clerks, and teenage jurors. With the aid of a few adults, these teenagers develop leadership abilities, teamwork skills, and a sense of self-worth. Listed below are the main participants in the Chances Teen Court.
The defendants are students in the community, usually referred to Teen Court from the Juvenile Probation Office. After the teenagers are ticketed for their offense/s, they are referred to Chances Teen Court.
The attorneys are trained volunteers. The training consist of situational lessons, job shadowing, acting as supportive counsel and lastly acting as lead counsel. The teen attorneys may call and question witnesses and bring forth information pertaining to their argument of the case. Aggravating and mitigating circumstances are heavily discussed.
Jurors make up a Teen Court jury, and their verdicts must be unanimous before they can return from deliberation. The defendants participating in this program will be required to serve at least one term as a jury member but no more than 4. Members will be selected from area schools. Participants will be able to select from three different terms: fall, spring, or summer.
The judge who serves Teen Court will be a local judge or attorney. Should the judge be unable to serve the local Teen Court, the Program Director will serve as judge. An adult is used in this capacity to continue the real effect of a courtroom appearance.
Our Teen Court Coordinator is Kandace Brown.