Teen Court

In July 2001, the first session of Teen Court, an innovative positive early intervention community resource, was held. This program, funded by the Gaston County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, provides youth ages 12-17 who have admitted guilt to a minor offense an alternative to Juvenile or District Court through peer review of the sentencing phase of their case. It seeks to reduce recidivism by holding these first time offending youth responsible for their actions through punishment options more suited to their age and offense.

 

Local middle and high school teens volunteer their time to be jury members, court clerks, bailiffs, and attorneys. The Court session is overseen by one of Gaston County’s District Court Judges and Deputies from the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office assist in the Baliff position. Local attorneys offer training and assistance to teens who prepare defense and prosecution for the offender. The jury is trained and supervised by Gaston County Juvenile Court Counselors to answer questions and guide teens through sentencing options.

 

After the sentence is decided, the offender and their parents are advised of instructions to complete their sentence successfully. If the sentence is fulfilled as required by the jury, the offender will not have a criminal record and is invited to participate as a juror in future Teen Court sessions. However, if the sentence is not completed, the case is sent to Juvenile or District Court where punishment is harsher and a record is guaranteed.

Over 3000 teens and 200 adults have been involved in this exciting venture. Send an email if you would like to become part of the team.