"A Program for Youth, A Partner with Justice"
What is Youth Court?
Youth Court of Jefferson County is an alternative to the more complex criminal and juvenile justice systems. The court was established in 1997 to provide law enforcement agencies and the probation department with a diversion program able to deal with youth between 7 and 15 years of age whom had committed offenses such as petit larceny, criminal mischief, harassment, vandalism, disorderly conduct, public lewdness, and some alcohol or marijuana violations that were determined by law enforcement officials to be appropriate for referral.
Participation by the youth and their parent or guardian is voluntary and established during an intake interview process. The youth must voluntarily accept responsibility for their part in the matter being brought before the court. Their admissions, both verbal and written are the consent for the youth court proceeding to be scheduled. By their admission in Youth Court, the youth waives his or her rights to a formal trial.
The Advantages of Youth Court are:
- The youth is not sent to Family Court
- The youth is not labeled a juvenile delinquent
- The youth pays no attorney or court fees
- The youth learns about the justice system
- The youth is judged by a panel of his or her peers
What happens after the hearing?At the end of the youth’s hearing they are given a case disposition. A disposition is a list of tasks that he or she is sentenced to and may include:
- Up to 50 hours of Community Service
- Law Related Educational Classes
- Letters of Apology
- Essays on the classes they are assigned
- Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling
- Anything creative the Members of the Court come up with
Who are Youth Court Members of the Court?
Youth Court volunteers are Jefferson County students between 15 and 19 years of age. They are trained to conduct the "sentence hearing" of their peers while serving any role of the tribunal court which may include peer judge, defender, prosecutor, clerk, or bailiff. Through their training and participation volunteers develop:
- Individual & group decision making skills;
- Public speaking & presentation skills;
- Critical and strategic thinking skills;
- An understanding of their civic responsibilities;
- Knowledge of the criminal & juvenile justice systems;
- Awareness of their responsibility to the community & accountability for their actions;
- Awareness of their obligation to act in a pro-social manner;
- Awareness of their own abilities to make choices that will affect their lives
Links of Interest:
Think you might like to volunteer?
Click the link below for a volunteer application to print out and mail to:
Tammie Miller, Director
Youth Court of Jefferson County
200 Washington St., Suite #207
Watertown, NY 13601
Telephone: (315) 836-8502
Sponsorship for Youth Court of Jefferson County is provided by: