One such option is Teen Court, a diversion program available to qualifying first-time juvenile offenders. Youth who get in trouble can be referred directly from law enforcement and School Resource Officers at the time of the incident. Other youth may be diverted from Juvenile and District Court rather than going through formal adult prosecution. The program is designed to help youth and teens who have made a mistake take responsibility for their actions. They must admit guilt to participate in the program, but then with the aid of pro-social peer interactions they may take personal responsibility for any damage their actions caused, for themselves, their families and others. Student volunteers and previous youth offenders serve in all courtroom positions, including prosecuting and defense attorneys, clerks, jurors and bailiffs; an adult judge presides.
Teen Court Volunteer Job Descriptions | City of Lewisville, TX
Youth acting as attorneys must be willing to come to court prepared to present their case. Case paperwork must be handled in a confidential manner and shredded upon completion of case. Defense attorneys are asked to call their clients prior to court. Like the prosecutor, the defense attorney has the duty to maintain public respect for the judicial system. The Judge will ensure that questioning of the witness by jurors is thorough and on-track and that each juror asks a minimum of one question.
We appeal to the youth's sense of responsibility to complete everything in a timely manner and want to close with a successful completion. A case file is now open for this youth. A letter is sent to the parents of the offender informing them of an appointment for them to attend with their child in the Teen Court Office. This interview lasts approximately minutes. During this intake interview, the Coordinator assesses the offender's intent, attitude and the circumstances and determines whether or not to proceed with the youth in the Teen Court program.
Teen Court is an innovative program which allows first-time violators of the law to come before their peers instead of going to Juvenile Court. This court stresses that positive peer pressure will be able to correct illegal behavior. The court does this by putting the offender, who had already admitted guilt, on trial. The participants make the program unique; everyone in the courtroom except the judge is a student.