Teen Court is an alternative sentencing program for first time juvenile offenders. The program is designed as an early intervention and prevention program to help young offenders learn from their decisions and get back on the right life course. Referrals are made to Teen Court from the Mercer County Juvenile Probation. Defendants who appear before the MCTC have committed misdemeanor crimes such as: shoplifting, vandalism, curfew violations, underage consumption and tobacco possession.
It is a REAL court, with REAL authority, that is run completely by teen volunteers. Trained student volunteers serve as clerk, bailiff, jury, Prosecuting Attorney and Defense Attorney. Defendants who agree to appear before the MCTC are sentenced by a jury of their peers and have 90 days from the night of their hearing to complete their sentence. Each defendant is required to complete between 16-40 hours of community service, as well as return to be a member of the MCTC jury. Other sentencing options include: counseling, drug testing, apology letter, written essay and additional jury sessions.
A defendant who successfully completes Teen Court will have no juvenile criminal record. The only cost involved for defendants is a $40 court cost/fine.
For teen volunteers the benefits are many. Volunteers get valuable first-hand experience with the legal system, public speaking experience, school credits, community service opportunities and it’s FUN! MCTC has several fun activities each year, as well as a trip! In May 2013, a group of 30 volunteers spent 2 days In Charlottsville, VA touring Montpelier and visiting the Natural Bridge. Several MCTC volunteers have gone onto to college to study law, social work and other related fields.