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Teen Court

Teens helping teens to take responsibility in the courtroom and beyond.

Eligibility:

An appropriate referral is a first-time offender who meets all of the following requirements:

  1. Is between the ages of 12 and 18, and attends high school full time in Bladen, Brunswick, and Columbus County.
  2. Commits a qualifying misdemeanor, such as disorderly conduct or communicating threats.
    Voluntarily admits guilt and accepts the Teen Court alternative.
  3. Has a parent or guardian who agrees to support their child's participation in the program.

"Teen Court teaches lessons that last a lifetime"

Teen court is an alternative system for justice for 13th Judicial District high school students. It is a diversionary court that keeps first-time juvenile offenders out of the court system. Offenders who are willing to admit guilt are held accountable for their actions. They plead guilty and are sentenced by their peers for their misdemeanor offenses. Student volunteers take the various roles of clerks, bailiffs, attorneys and jurors.

Not only is Teen Court a "hands-on" opportunity for offenders and volunteers to learn about the legal system, but it is also a vehicle for positive peer pressure. Juveniles brought before Teen Court as offenders learn to accept responsibility for their actions. They pay back the community through community service, Teen Court observations, and other possible sanctions. The whole process empowers youths to take responsibility for problems of crime and violence in their own schools and communities.

How it works:

Adult referrals are received by the Teen Court coordinator. If the case is appropriate for Teen Court, the coordinator will contact the teen offender. The offender, along with a parent or guardian, will be interviewed by the coordinator. If the offender is willing to admit responsibility for the offense, then he/she may be selected to participate.

The offender will then be assigned a date to appear in Teen Court to plead guilty before an adult judge and a trained jury of his peers. The jury will then deliberate an appropriate sentence, including community service, letters of apology, drug assessments, conflict resolution classes, etc. All sentences, as monitored by the Teen Court coordinator, must be completed no later than 90 days. Successful completion results in NO CRIMINAL RECORD.

There are many ways our children and members of the community will benefit from this program:

Offenders Bennefit By:

  • Keeping a clean record.
  • Getting a second chance.
  • Learning important lessons.
  • Taking personal responsibility.
  • Developing respect for authority.
  • Positive appreciation of others.
  • Positive motivation toward self improvement.

Student Volunteers Benefit By:

  • Direct experience with our legal system.
  • Learning to work together.
  • Future legal career possibilities.
  • Developing basic leadership qualities.
  • Developing self- worth.
  • Being around positive role models.
  • Strengthening personal bonds.

Community Benefits By:

  • Empowering young people to change.
  • Reducing recurrence of criminal behavior.
  • Reaching young offenders at the most crucial time.
  • Promoting positive attitudes.
  • Rehabilitating young offenders.
  • Improving school and community environments.
  • Educating young people about their legal rights.
  • Allowing the court system to focus on more serious offenses.
  • Building leadership qualities and community awareness.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact our office.