The Cumberland County Teen Court was established in July 1993 to add a new dimension of diversity, accountability, and responsibility to the Juvenile Justice System. The Program is specifically designed to address the needs of the first-time misdemeanor offender and his/her family. Through the creation of a Teen Jury Court system, the juvenile offender, his/her parents, and the appropriate community agencies are brought together to determine fair, logical and natural consequences for the juvenile’s actions. The purpose and intent of the program is to involve young people in taking responsibility for their actions, and to give the community an active role in dealing with juvenile offenders.
It is the hope of our agency that Teen Court will interrupt developing patterns of criminal behavior by promoting feelings of self-esteem, motivation for self improvement, and the development of a healthy attitude toward authority. For the offender as well as the non-offender who serves on the jury. Teen Court challenges youth to perform at their highest level of ability. It encourages them to place a high priority on acting as a responsible young adult. Teen Court encourages youths to teach one another the importance of remaining law abiding and productive young men and women.
Offenders 11 through 18 years of age who are charged with Class C Citations and nonviolent misdemeanor offenses. Referrals are received from the Fayetteville Police Department, School Resource Officers, District Court, Juvenile Court, Sheriff’s Department, and Juvenile Court Counselors. Participation is voluntary and the offender must admit his/her guilt prior to an interview with the Teen Court Coordinator. Parents must agree to support and cooperate with this program. Emphasis is placed on the offender to be responsible for his/her constructive sentence and the required paperwork.
Brief Overview of the Teen Court Process
After an offender is referred to the Teen Court Program, a letter will be send to the offender’s parents requesting that they will call our office to set an appointment. At the interview, the program rules and regulations are explained to the offender and the offender’s parents. Offenders are assigned a court night and issued a summons to appear at Court.
On the Court night, offenders are assigned a teen Defense Attorney. The Defense Attorney’s job is to help the offender in the presentation of his/her case. A Prosecuting Attorney is also assigned to each Courtroom. Some offenders may not be assigned a Defense Attorney and instead, the Courtroom will be conducted in Grand Jury fashion.
The Teen Court hears the case and renders a verdict which consists of a specific number of jury duties, educational seminars, and community service hours. After the verdict is decided, the offender and the family will attend an exit interview with Teen Court Staff to explain paper work and answer questions.
The Courtroom is a formal and very serious place commanding respect from all who participate in its proceedings.
Appropriate attire is expected; no shorts, hats, tank tops, midriff tops, halter tops, or torn clothing. The first impression made on the jury has an effect on the verdict rendered. A good attitude and a neat appearance contribute positively to that impression.
Teen Court prohibits the use of gum, tobacco products, obscene or profane language, and eating or drinking while in the Courtroom.
Community Service Worksites
There are a variety of community work-sites available. The coordinator has a listing available to assist the defendant in the selection of a community service agency. Most agencies offer after-school and weekend opportunities for volunteer work.
To help coordinate various activities during court proceedings.
Assist with exit interviews, explaining paperwork and program expectations.
Perform clerical duties at the Teen Court office.
Train to serve as clerks, bailiffs, lawyers, and jurors.
Benefits To The Community
Having fewer juvenile repeat offenders will free law enforcement agencies to give attention to more serious criminals.
By interrupting errant juvenile patterns of behavior, expense of future imprisonment will be minimized. Instead, these young adults could become law abiding citizens contributing to society.
Young adults serving their sentences through community service will improve operations and reduce the workload in many facilities.
Benefits to the Offender
Successful completion of Teen Court requirements within the specified time frame results in dismissal of the case. Additionally, the offender learns about the judicial system and his/her legal rights and responsibilities. He/she will gain valuable work experience and learn to take responsibility for his/her actions.
For additional information about volunteering for Teen Court, Please contact our office at (910) 486-9465.