What is Teen Court?

Teen Court is an alternative program to the court system, allowing first-time juvenile offenders between the ages of 12 and 17 to be tried by their peers for misdemeanor offenses. Student volunteers take the roles of attorneys, clerks and jurors. Local attorneys volunteer their time and serve as Teen Court judges.

Teen Court does not determine guilt or innocence; admission of guilt is a requirement for being offered this voluntary diversion from Juvenile Court. The Teen Court s mission is to deliver a constructive sentence to the offender based on his/her offense. Teen Court is a “hands-on” opportunity for offenders and volunteers to learn about the legal system, as well as a vehicle for positive peer pressure. Typical charges presented at Teen Court hearings are larceny (stealing or shoplifting), affray, simple assault, property damage, and possession of drugs or alcohol.

Teen Court is held at the Rowan County Courthouse two Tuesday evenings each month from 5:30pm until 8:00pm. The defense and prosecuting attorneys prepare for their cases the week prior to the session. The defendant is asked questions by both the prosecuting and defense attorney and closing statements are made with recommendations to the jury. The defendant is allowed to tell his/her account of what happened, and the defendant's parent or guardian is given the opportunity to speak on their child's behalf.

Once the jury has heard the facts of the case, they enter the jury room to decide on an appropriate, constructive sentence for the defendant. When they have reached a decision, the judge will issue that sentence to the defendant, and the defendant and his/her family will leave the courtroom to participate in the final stage of the court process, the exit interview. Defendants have 90 days from the date of their hearing to complete their sentence.

The cases heard in Teen Court MUST be held in the strictest confidence.
Everyone in the courtroom is required to taken an oath of confidentiality regarding the persons and charges involved. If anyone fails to abide by this oath, they will be terminated from the program.

Benefits of Teen Court

Our Community benefits by....

  • Empowering young people to change their lives for the better.
  • Reducing the Juvenile Court caseload, enabling court officials to focus on more serious offenders.
  • Saving tax dollars.

Student volunteers benefit by......

  • Gaining hands-on experience of our legal system.
  • Developing basic leadership qualities and self-worth.
  • Being able to help other teens.

Offenders benefit by......

  • Learning to take responsibility for their actions.
  • No criminal record upon successful completion of the program.

Teen Court Volunteers

Volunteers are recruited from local schools, civic organizations and the business community. Youth volunteers serve as Teen Court attorneys, clerks, and jurors. Adult volunteers may serve as jury room monitors and judges. Volunteers are required to submit an application and attend training, which is provided by the Teen Court Program Director and/or other professionals.

Would you like to volunteer for the Teen Court program? Fill out the form below.

If Juvenile:

Need more information? Contact Program Director
Bretta Matthews.



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