In Teen Court, hearings are just like adult court cases. The Judge introduces the Juvenile Offender and relevant information to the offense. The jury is asked bias questions to ensure a fair hearing. Youth Attorneys will present an opening statement, questioning of witnesses and closing statements. After hearing the evidence presented, 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.
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
• A positive alternate for students who have stepped “off track” for the first time
• Judgment of a teen by their “peers” which in many cases has more powerful impact than adult discipline
To Youth 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