WOODBURY COUNTY TEEN COURT
What is Teen Court?
Teen Court is an alternative to formal legal involvement in the Juvenile Justice System. The function of Teen court is to determine what consequences are appropriate for each individual, considering the circumstances of the law violation. They may impose a sentence that includes community service, restitution (monetary or in-kind) and attendance at mandatory rehabilitative classes or counseling sessions. Cases are referred by Juvenile Court Services of the Third Judicial District, to the Coordinator, who accepts cases which meet established criteria. Typical cases that may be heard in Teen Court include shoplifting, assault, criminal mischief, and trespassing, and drug and alcohol offenses.
All cases referred to Teen Court are youth under the age of 18. This applies to a youth who has voluntarily admitted guilt to a crime or an offense. He/she will appear for a sentence hearing before a jury of their peers. The jury is presented with evidence relevant to sentencing. The jury then deliberates and then passes sentence. Sentences typically include community service and counseling, and stress rehabilitative goals. Upon successful completion of Teen Court, a conviction will be kept off their record.
Who comprises Teen Court?
Teen Court is composed of volunteers from area high schools who have successfully completed training and are willing to make a one year commitment to participate in the program. They serve as the jurors and panelists of the court.
Benefits of Teen Court?
Teens tend to respond better when peers hold them accountable for their actions and are less likely to commit a second offense. It allows teenage volunteers to participate in the legal system, giving them a greater respect to the law. It also allows them an opportunity to have an impact and investment in their community. Teen Court decreases the amount of repeat offenses and formal legal involvement. It saves the community the cost of the judges, prosecutors, public defenders, probation officers and clerical staff.
Complete this form to be a volunteer: Volunteer Application Form [pdf]