“Giving First Time Offenders A Second Chance”

Apply to become a Teen Court Volunteer online at: https://forms.gle/ZGgZPeciUjMXBFwE8 or contact Diane Callison at 304-574-4338 or fayettefrn@gmail.com

The Fayette County Family Resource Network along with the Fayette County Substance Abuse Task Force, Fayette County Commission, Fayette County Circuit Court, Fayette County Youth Reporting Center, and numerous other local organizations, businesses and individuals have come together to establish the Fayette County Teen Court.  

Teen Court is designed to provide a community based alternative to the formal court process. It represents a more positive alternative to the juvenile justice system, and focuses on youth development and accountability. Young offenders learn to take responsibility for their actions. The program represents a way for juveniles to actively participate in an informal court process and learn from their mistakes. Juvenile cases addressed by this court are handled on a timely basis and free up time and funds for the Circuit Court system to handle more serious offenses.

How does a Teen Court work?

Teen Court is based on the philosophy that a youthful law violator does not continue to be an offender when a peer jury decides punishment. The program focuses on youth accountability and development and provides a way for youthful offenders to keep their records clean (as long as no further charges are filed).

Defendant participation in this program is entirely voluntary and requires a plea of nolo contendere. The program is available to juvenile misdemeanor offenders. Defendants are from ages 11 to 18 years and must have parental or guardian consent. A $25 fee is paid by each offender. He/she must also agree to serve as a juror in the future.

In Teen Court, the Judge introduces the defendant to the teenage jurors who are informed of his/her charges. After hearing the evidence presented by a teen prosecutor and defense attorney, the jury considers the appropriate sentence

The clerks, bailiffs, prosecuting and defense attorneys, and all jurors, are all Fayette County youth volunteers. They receive instruction and guidance from local attorneys.

Eligible Offenses for Teen Court include:

  • Minor traffic violations 
  • Misdemeanors such as public intoxication, shoplifting, criminal damage to property under $300, vandalism, disorderly conduct
  • Minors in possession of alcohol or simple possession of marijuana
  • Simple assaults
  • Others as identified

Teen Court  sentences are designed to fit the offense and involve restitution, community service, and prevention  education.  A typical sentence could be any of the following:

  • Teen Court Basic Training
  • Apology (written, oral, or both)
  • Community Services
  • Research Paper
  • Prevention or education program
  • Restitution
  • Other

The defendant may accept the sentence assessed by the teen jury, or reject the sentence and elect to go before the Circuit Court through the traditional juvenile justice system.

What are the benefits of Teen Court?

To the Defendant:

  • Interruption of a potential pattern of inappropriate behavior
  • Improvement of self-esteem resulting from successful completion of the program
  • Accountability. An opportunity for a young person to avoid a criminal record

To the Community:

  • Service to the community that benefits the entire community
  • Dramatic reduction in the number of repeat offenders
  • Reduction of the case load in the juvenile justice system

To the Schools:

  • Judgment of a teen by their “peers” which in many cases has more powerful impact than adult discipline
  • A positive alternate for students who have stepped “off track” for the first time

To the Student Volunteers:

  • Involvement in redirecting peers
  • Improvement of public speaking and advocacy skills
  • A better understanding of the judicial system through hands-on participation
  • Reinforcement of good citizenship