What is Teen Court?
Teen Court is a program that gives first-time youthful offenders, between the ages of 9 and 17, a second chance; yet holds them fully accountable for their actions. Misdemeanor offenses, such as larceny, simple assault, affray, property damage, drug possession, alcohol possession, and others are heard in Teen Court. The defendant must stand before a jury of their peers, plead guilty to the offense and accept the sanctions imposed by the jury. Teen volunteers, aged 9 to 17, act as Defense Attorney, Prosecuting Attorney, Bailiff, Court Clerk and Jurors. The only participating adult is the Judge, who is a licensed Attorney or actual presiding Judge.
What's the Purpose of Teen Court?
The program is based on the philosophy that a youthful law violator is less likely to continue to be a repeat offender when a jury of their peers decides the appropriate punishment. It is anticipated that Teen Court will interrupt developing patterns of criminal behavior by promoting feelings of self-esteem, motivation for self-improvement and a healthy attitude toward authority. Teen Court challenges the offenders, as well as the volunteer teens to perform at their highest level of ability.
What Sentences are Imposed?
Teen Court sanctions include:
• Community Service
• Jury Duty
• A Skills Group that may focus on making appropriate choices, peer-pressure, decision-making, substance abuse issues and the effects of stealing on the community.
• Monetary Restitution
• The jury may also impose written or verbal apologies and or essays.
After the Teen Court sanctions are successfully completed within the 90 day time limit, the offense is dismissed in Juvenile Court. If the defendant does not complete or rejects the sentence, their case is returned to the referral source and it is assumed that District or Juvenile Court will be pursued.
Where is Teen Court?
Cases are heard at the Wake County Courthouse on South Salisbury St. in downtown Raleigh, two Tuesdays per month at 5:45 p.m. See this year's schedule for exact dates.