How does Teen Court work?
The court will be conducted by a Judge Pro-Tem and will be staffed with a bailiff and court clerk. As many as four cases may be heard during each session and there will be separate juries for each.
The jury will impose a sentence, however, the Judge Pro-Tem will monitor the sentence, but will not interfere unless the sentence is extremely unreasonable or impractical.
The sentence may consist of the following:
- Community Service. (20-120 hours)
- Restitution (if there is a monetary loss to the victim).
- Drug/Alcohol treatment.
- Essay/letter of apology.
- Serve as juror for at least one Teen Court session (recommended).
Jurors will be at least 13 years of age and cannot be associated or acquainted with the suspected offender. Jurors in all cases will be compelled and counseled to maintain the highest degree of integrity and decorum in their case dealings. Jurors are reminded they bear a heavy responsibility in deciding the guilt or innocence of the suspected offender. Jurors maturity and good judgment are essential in making the Teen Court program effective and to hopefully help the offender take responsibility for his/her actions and deter them from repeat offenses. The jury changes for each case. A new set of jurors is selected and hears a case while the previous jury deliberates. One juror is chosen as Foreperson to deliver recommendations
The Court Coordinator presents the case and charges to the jury, reviews the suspected offender's school records and arranges and verifies the minor complies with the jury's recommendations. The parents or guardians may be present at the hearing and are assisted if there is a language barrier. The following is the hearing format:
- The Bailiff swears in the suspected offender.
- Court Coordinator reads the charges and a detailed description of the offense.
- The Judge Pro-Tem asks the suspected offender if the charges are correct.
- The suspected offender can accept the charges with an explanation or deny the charges, telling his/her side of the story.
- Jury is allowed to ask the suspected offender and parent’s questions to get background information.
- The Judge Pro-Tem excuses the minor, clarifies the charges and the law to the jurors before they begin deliberating.
- Jury returns when deliberations are complete. Foreperson reads the decision and recommendations.
- The Judge Pro-Tem orders recommendations, with modifications, if necessary.