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TEEN COURT PROGRAM

Q. How Was Teen Court Developed?

A. In the mid 1980's in Odessa, Texas Teen Court began as a concept and a program. In 1988 Judge Paul Logan of Sarasota, Florida became seriously interested in the program and began our First Teen Court in Florida. In 1993, Judge W. Wayne Woodard recognized the need for a program like Teen Court and working through the Court Administrator's office with the late William H. Hayes and the cooperation of the local high schools, introduced Teen Court to Charlotte County.

Q. What Is Teen Court?

A. Teen Court is a program where high school children who have committed certain relatively minor offenses (misdemeanor charges) can be dealt with before a group of their own peers.

Q. What Is The Purpose Of Teen Court?

A. The program offers an effective diversion away from the Juvenile Justice system for first time offenders while also providing youth volunteers in the community an opportunity to understand our justice system, gaining educational experience as well as self-improvement as they further their education. It reduces the ever-increasing problems associated with juvenile crime by allowing the courts to deal with crimes of a more serious nature and the offender the ability to participate in a program with their peers. Teen Court is based upon the premise that youthful offenders will more readily accept responsibility for their actions when judged and sentenced by their own peers.

Q. How Can A Youth Offender Participate In The Teen Court Program?

A. Offenders that are sent to the Teen Court Program must be willing to accept the charge, be referred by the Department of Juvenile Justice, and approved by the State Attorney's Office and approved for Teen Court by the Teen Court Coordinator.

Q. How Can A Youth Volunteer In The Teen Court Program?

A. Applications are prepared in June and youth can call in, have them mailed to them, pick up an application at the Administrative Office of the Courts in the Charlotte County Justice Center, or wait for school to begin and pick up an application in the Student Office at their high school. They must be in good academic standing in grades 9 through 12.

Q. How Does Teen Court Differ From Juvenile Court?

A. Teen Court is an alternative to Juvenile Court. It is a voluntary program in that both the child and parent must agree to participate in all hearings. The child and parents are not court ordered to complete the sanctions, but they do sign a contract to honor the sanctions imposed upon them by the Teen Court Jurors. They must also participate as a Juror in the program as well as complete Community Service as a part of their sanction. In Teen Court the child is allowed to testify in their behalf and they have trained Student Attorney's assisting them.

Q. Are There Any Other Volunteers Participating In The Teen Court Program?

A. There are Professional Adult Attorney's from the community that volunteer their time in assisting the Student Attorney's.

Q. What Are The Roles In The Teen Court Program?

A. The roles consist of Prosecuting and Defense Attorney's, Shadow Attorney's, the Court Clerk, and the Bailiff's from our Explorer Club in Charlotte County. There is also a County Court Judge that presides over these cases.

Contact Information

20th Judicial Circuit of Florida
Administrative Office of the Courts

PHYSICAL ADDRESS

Charlotte County Teen Court Program:

Charlotte County Historic Courthouse
226 Taylor Street, Suite 200
Punta Gorda, Florida 33950
Phone: (941) 833-5430

 



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