Information from Our Tallahassee Juvenile Defense Attorneys
The Teen Court Program in Leon County is a diversionary program for juveniles who have been arrested, admitted their guilt to the crime or entered a plea of No Contest, and have been recommended by the court to participate in The Teen Court Program. This program diverts a child’s case from the Court system and upon successful completion, the juvenile will not have a conviction on their permanent record.
If your child has been charged with a crime, then Brooks, LeBoeuf, Bennett, Foster & Gwartney, P.A. can assist you. Call (850) 426-4477 today.
How Teen Court Works
In Teen Court, the child will actively participate in an actual sentencing hearing for first-time juvenile offenders who have received misdemeanor or felony charges in Leon County, Florida. The sentencing hearings are conducted by teens who act as attorneys, bailiffs, and jurors. The hearings are overseen by an acting “judge” who is a board certified attorney or an actual judge of the Second Judicial Circuit. There are also adults who volunteer and supervise all proceedings.
Individuals who agree to participate in The Teen Court Program agree to be sentenced by a jury of their peers instead of being processed through the Leon County Juvenile Court System. All sanctions decided by the jury of peers are binding and will be upheld by the Court.
There are four phases to The Teen Court Program:
- Hearing & Sentence
- Completion of Sentence
- Final Report
The referral phase when the Judge or another authority such as the State Attorney, recommends that a case be transferred to The Teen Court Program. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Brooks, LeBoeuf, Bennett, Foster & Gwartney, P.A. can assist you in being referred to the Teen Court program as they have many years of experience in negotiating with the State and Courts to obtain such referrals. After a case has been referred to The Teen Court Program, the Hearing and Sentencing phase begins.
Hearing & Sentence
Once a case is referred to Teen Court, a hearing date and time will be set by the Court. During the scheduled hearing, a jury of peers will review the recommended sanctions as well as the facts of the case and will determine the sanctions to be imposed. All sanctions and sentences will be reviewed by the referring entity to ensure they meet the predetermined sentencing guidelines.
The juvenile’s sentence will be determined on the night of the hearing. Once a sentence is imposed, the juvenile can start completing the sanctioned requirements, which may include completing community service hours or educational programs, writing letters of apology, or other court-approved sanctions. Juveniles will be given a completion date to have all sanctions completed.
Completion of Sentence
The requirements of completing a sentence rendered by the jury of peers will depend on what sanctions were ordered. A juvenile who is ordered to complete any sanctions will be responsible for reporting their completion to their assigned case coordinator by the previously set completion date. If community service hours are required, the case coordinator will provide the child with a list of approved community service options.
After all required sanctions have been completed, the case will be reviewed by Teen Court staff to determine if the juvenile successfully completed The Teen Court Program. The Teen Court staff will then send a report to the referring entity stating whether or not the program was successfully completed. If the program was completed in its entirety, the recommendation will be the case be dismissed in its entirety by the referring entity. If the program was not successfully completed, the case will be referred to the State Attorney’s Office where further prosecution may be pursued within the court system.
The Teen Court Program serves as an educational tool and fosters an environment of responsibility. Most of all, Teen Court allows children to avoid convictions on their records, while still taking responsibility for the actions.
If your child has been charged with a crime within the Juvenile Justice Court System, contact our Tallahassee juvenile defense lawyers to schedule your free consultation.