Stark County Family Court Teen Court is an alternative to traditional juvenile court proceedings for first-time nonviolent offenders. Based on the premise that young people respond positively to the influences of their peers, teen volunteers act as jurors, bailiffs, defense attorneys and prosecutors with an adult serving as judge. Addressing juvenile crime gives court members a “sense of stake” in the community and empowers them to make their communities safer and hold offenders accountable.
Since 1996, the Teen Court has ruled on more than 2,500 cases with the help of 2,000-plus high school student volunteers. Parents of juveniles charged have said that the program had a positive impact on their child and they would recommend it to other families coming before the Juvenile Court.
Teen Court is a partnership between Stark County Family Court and United Way of Greater Stark County.
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About the Program
The program is funded through a grant from the United Way of Greater Stark County. The court’s intake department refers juveniles to Teen Court upon a complaint of delinquency or unruly behavior. The defendant must:
- Be under the age of 18
- Have parent or guardian consent
- Admit involvement with charge
Once a youth is referred, the Teen Court coordinator contacts the offenders and parents to explain the program (they must all voluntarily agree to participate). After court, the juvenile has a specific timeframe in which to complete his or her sentence. Failure to do so can result in the case being set before a judge or magistrate. For more information, visit the Stark County Family Court website.