Cases heard in Youth Court are crimes such as shoplifting, possession of alcohol or marijuana, criminal mischief, battery and many other misdemeanor offenses. Sources of referral are law enforcement, Department of Juvenile Justice and the State Attorney’s Office.
The juvenile offender comes before Youth Court having acknowledged guilt. The offender and their parent/guardian meet with the Youth Court Coordinator for a pretrial interview to go over the rules and guidelines of the program. Once the juvenile has been accepted into the program, a Waiver of Speedy Trial is signed.
In the Court session, after the Youth Court Clerk calls the case, the Judge explains the offense committed. Then either a Grand Jury directly questions the Defendant or defense and prosecution attorneys present the case to the Youth Court Jury. Both utilize the testimony of the offender, the incident report and a pretrial information sheet compiled by the Coordinator. After carefully listening to the facts, the youth Court Jury deliberates the case and decides a constructive sentence for the offender based upon the concept of restorative justice.
The offender and their parent/guardian then meet with the Coordinator to sign a contract to complete the sentence they have received from the Jury. Once the offender completes their sentence a Successful Completion report is sent to the State Attorney’s Office, Department of Juvenile Justice and the referring agency. If the offender does not complete their sentence or rejects the Youth Court Jury sentence, then their case is returned to the appropriate referral source for prosecution.