There are 17 teen courts in Los Angeles county that take a very unique approach to juvenile justice. The courts are held in high schools and cases are heard before a jury of teens—truly a jury of peers. Not all juvenile offenders qualify for these courts but the ones who do seem to gain a lot from the input jurors provide.
According to the LA Times, the cases heard in these teen courts are committed by first time juvenile offenders. They include misdemeanors like vandalism, drug possession, and petty theft, cases that would normally be seen in traditional juvenile courts.
The jury features other teens, many of which were at once on the other side of the bench. The teens are reported to deliver thoughtful and unique sentences to their peers, taking the offenders home situation, personality, and motives into consideration.
The sentence usually consists of an informal probation with terms decided by the jury. If the offender successfully completes the terms as ordered the charges will be dismissed and they can carry on with their life.
Unlike adults, juveniles do not have a right to a trial by jury. This particular type of teen court is a privilege only afforded to some kids in certain jurisdictions. There are, however, programs available to help juveniles charged with a crime throughout the state.
Just like an adult accused of a crime, a juvenile can benefit from having an experienced defense attorney on their side. When your child is accused of violating the laws it is normal to be frightened of what this could mean to them and their future. Making sense of the California juvenile justice system isn’t simple and having someone with legal expertise on your side can be very helpful.