Teen Court is a program that gives first-time offenders between the ages of 10 and 17 a second chance, yet holds them accountable for their actions. The defendant must stand before a jury of their peers, plead guilty and accept the sanctions they impose. Teen volunteers, aged 13 to 17, act as Defense Attorney, Prosecuting Attorney, Bailiff, Clerk and Jury. The only participating adult in the courtroom is the Judge.
Teen Court is based on the philosophy that a youthful law violator is less likely to continue to be an offender when a jury of their peers decides the 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.
All teen court sentences include:
- Community Service Hours (20-50)
- Jury Duty (3-6)
- Attend school full-time
- Respect parent/guardian
The jury may also impose a substance abuse or anger management program, written or verbal apologies, essays, a mandatory curfew, suspension of driver’s license, jail tours, and restitution fees.
Once the Teen Court program is successfully completed, the offense is dismissed in Juvenile Court. If the offender does not complete or rejects the teen jury sentence, their case is returned to the State Attorney’s Office for prosecution.
The drug/alcohol component of Teen Court will serve as an intervention and deterrent for experimental substance users by providing intensive case management to eligible drug involved youth and their families.
Teen Court is held Tuesday evenings from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Lake County Judicial Center in Tavares.
Attire must be appropriate for court. Boys should wear belted slacks with a collared shirt tucked in at the waist. A tie and/or jacket are suggested. Girls should wear a dress, skirt, or nice slacks. Shirts must have a collar, sleeves and tuck in at the waist. Jeans, Shorts, T-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, flip- flops and slippers are not permitted. Cell phones must be turned off. Food, drink and gum are prohibited.
Teen Court volunteers must meet the following criteria:
- Be a 7th – 12th grade student in satisfactory academic standing, and not currently under the jurisdiction of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
- Abide by the rules of the program
- Sign and respect the “Oath of Confidentiality”.
- Demonstrate maturity and sensitivity.
Adult volunteers are always needed and welcome.
Training sessions are scheduled throughout the year.
Work in Lieu of Arrest (W.I.L.A.) is a civil citation program that affords first-time juvenile misdemeanor offenders an alternative to arrest while still providing immediate consequences. Click here to learn more.
To become a Teen Court volunteer, contact Christina Whyte at 352-742-6510 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teen Court Youth Volunteer Application Packet