WHAT HAPPENS IN TEEN COURT?
A youth, who has voluntarily admitted guilt to a crime or an offense, appears for a sentencing hearing before a jury of peers. The jury is presented with evidence relevant to sentencing, deliberates, and 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.
WHAT TYPES OF CASES ARE HEARD IN TEEN COURT ?
Cases are referred by the City Attorney of South Sioux City, Dakota County Attorney, and Iowa Juvenile Court Services to the Coordinators, who accept cases meeting established criteria. Typical cases that may be heard in Teen Court include shoplifting, criminal mischief, trespassing, vandalism, and alcohol offenses.
WHAT DOES THE COURT DECIDE?
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 classes or counseling sessions.
WHO ARE THE VOLUNTEER TEENS?
Teen Court is composed of volunteers from high schools who have successfully completed training and make a one year commitment to participate. They serve as the attorneys, jurors, bailiffs, etc.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Teen Courts are effective because:
- Teens respond better when peers hold them accountable for their actions.
- Teens are less likely to commit a second offense.
- It allows teenage volunteers to participate in legal system, giving them greater respect to the law.
- It allows them to have an impact and investment in their community.
WHAT ARE THE TAX SAVINGS?
Teen Court saves tax dollars by handling cases and not requiring formal legal involvement. With a decrease in repeat offenses, the legal system is saved the cost of additional judges, prosecutors, public defenders, probation officers and clerical staff.