Teen Court is a first time offenders program with alternative sentencing that is run for teens by teens and has been serving teens and families in our community since 1994.
Teen Court is a nationally recognized early intervention and restorative justice program for juveniles (ages 12-17), giving the offender a second chance while holding them accountable for their actions. The Teen Court program serves as a community-based intervention/diversion program designed to provide an alternative response for the juvenile justice system. The teen accepts responsibility for their offense, appears before a judge and their peers, and is sentenced.
The goal of the Teen Court program is to interrupt developing patterns of criminal behavior by promoting feelings of self-esteem, motivation for self-improvement, and a healthy attitude toward authority. Teen Court challenges the offenders, as well as the volunteer teens, to perform at their highest level of ability. Teen Courts give appropriate offenders a second chance, yet holds them accountable for their actions. The courts use positive peer pressure to ensure that young people who commit even minor offenses give back to the community and avoid further contact with the justice system. The sanctions are determined by the Teen Court jury, and include community service, jury duty, and letters of apology. Other possible sanctions can include, behavior modification classes, essays, counseling, educational programs, gender-specific programs, and substance abuse prevention workshops.
About Teen Court
- Santa Fe County Teen Court is an alternative court where teens are judged and sentenced by a teen jury. All cases are heard at District Court. Teen attorneys prosecute and defend the cases.
- Teen Court does not determine guilt or innocence; Teen Court is for sentencing only. A teen must accept complete responsibility for his/her offense(s) to be heard in Teen Court.
- Teen Court is a way for eligible teens to keep their record clean. If a teen successfully completes his/ her sentence, the charges and fines are dismissed.
- By incorporating some of the principals of restorative justice we hope to help repair the harm that has been done. Teen Court gives teens the opportunity to connect and make a difference.
- Teen Court is voluntary for teens (ages 12-17) charged with traffic violations, shoplifting less than $250 value, possession of marijuana or alcohol, disorderly conduct, and other misdemeanors.
- Teen Court is for misdemeanor offenses which are referred by Municipal Court, Juvenile Probation and Parole, Magistrate Court, Children's Court, or the Santa Fe Public Schools.
- All referrals to Teen Court must pay a $50 referral fee. This fee must be paid on or before the teen's scheduled hearing in Teen Court.
Responsibilities of Teen Defendants
- Teen must admit to the charges.
- Teen must appear at the sentencing hearing with his/her parent, guardian, or custodian.
- Teen must complete his/her sentence within the time frame given.
- Teens must follow the court Rules of Conduct.
- Teen must not commit any other offenses during their association with Teen Court.