Fayette County Teen Court
Teen Court is an alternate sentencing option for Juvenile Offenders from grades 7th to 12th. The offenses heard in Teen Court would be anything considered a misdemeanor if processed through the traditional court system. This can include shoplifting, disorderly conduct, vandalism, or minors in possession of alcohol or tobacco products.
This program is based on the philosophy that a Juvenile Offender does not continue to be an offender when a peer jury decides their consequences.
Participation in this program is entirely voluntary and must have parental/guardian consent. A $25 fee is paid by each Juvenile Offender.
Juvenile Offenders learn to take responsibility for their actions. The program represents a way for youth to actively participate in an informal court process and learn from their mistakes. These cases are handled on a timely basis and free up time and funds for the Circuit Court system to handle more serious offenses.
How Does a Teen Court Work?
In Teen Court, the Judge introduces the Juvenile Offender to the jurors who are within the same grade bracket as the offender (7th through 12th). After hearing the evidence presented by a teen prosecutor and defense attorney, the jury considers the appropriate sentence.
Two required sentences are community service (a minimum of 16 hours, a maximum of 40 hours) and serving on the Teen Court jury for 2 other cases. Past those two requirements, other possible sentencing options could include an apology letter, completing a research essay, attending prevention or education programs, etc.
The clerks, bailiffs, prosecuting and defense attorneys, and all jurors, are all Fayette County youth volunteers.
What are the Benefits of Teen Court?
To the Juvenile Offender:
- Interruption of a potential pattern of inappropriate behavior
- Improvement of self-esteem resulting from successful completion of the program
- Accountability. An opportunity for a young person to avoid a criminal record
To the Community:
- Service to the community that benefits the entire community
- Dramatic reduction in the number of repeat offenders
- Reduction of the case load in the juvenile justice system
To the Schools:
- Judgment of a teen by their “peers” which, in many cases, has more powerful impact than adult discipline
- A positive alternate for students who have stepped “off track” for the first time
To the Student Volunteers:
- Involvement in redirecting peers
- Improvement of public speaking and advocacy skills
- A better understanding of the judicial system through hands-on participation
- Reinforcement of good citizenship
As a committee of the Fayette Prevention Coalition, our current efforts and initiatives include:
- Collaborating with schools to receive referrals for Juvenile Offenders grades 7th-12th and applications for youth volunteers
- Hosting monthly Teen Court hearings. Hearing are typically held on the 4th Monday of every month, starting at 5pm. All Teen Court proceedings are held at the Fayette County Courthouse Annex Building in Fayetteville, WV.
- Maintaining communication with organizations dedicated to the success of Teen Court
- Following Teen Court graduates for up to 1 year after their participation, to ensure reduced recidivism among Juvenile Offenders.
If you would like to join our efforts, we meet monthly via Zoom on the 2nd Monday of each month at 9am. Please contact us for the meeting link.
In the News
Beckley’s The Register-Herald newspaper wrote an article about what goes on during a Teen Court hearing. Check it out to get a better understand of what we do.