Teen Court is administered by the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court and is a voluntary diversion program for first-time juvenile offenders facing eligible misdemeanor or low-level felony offenses.
Teen Court is a “peer court” that allows offenders to participate in a court with a jury made up of trained high school teen volunteers and adults. The program allows a forum for the youth to explain their role in the offense. The youth must admit guilt and take responsibility for their action upon acceptance into the program.
The jury of peers will sentence the youth to sanctions which they are required to complete and will include Teen Court jury duties and community service. Other sanctions may include:
- Apology letter
- Random drug testing
- Life skills
Teen Court typically disposes of a juvenile’s case in one-third the time of conventional Juvenile Court. If the youth does not complete the program (i.e., sentence), the case is returned to the State Attorney’s Office for trial in Juvenile Court before a Circuit Judge. If the youth completes all sanctions, the original charge is dismissed and they will not have a criminal record.
An assistant state attorney will review eligible juvenile cases to determine if a juvenile should be referred to this diversion program.
Teen Court Domestic Violence (DV)
Teen Court DV offers a specialized track for domestic violence cases. If a youth presents with a domestic violence charge, the S.T.O.P. (Supporting Teens Overcoming Problems) will be added to the sanctions.