In Youth Court, other teenagers are your judges and lawyers. This means that your peers will determine the consequences of your actions. Youth judges can order you to do a certain number of hours of community service, pay restitution, attend education classes, or write essays or apologies to the victim, your parents, or other youth.
You must agree to go to Youth Court. You can only participate in Youth Court if you admit to committing the offense that you are charged with. The judges do not decide whether or not you committed the offense, but only what the consequences will be. Youth Court only handles offenses that would be misdemeanors if committed by adults. These typically include petty theft or shoplifting, minor assaults, and marijuana, alcohol, or tobacco offenses. You can only have one offense submitted to Youth Court. If you are eligible for Youth Court and decide to do it, you will be assigned a youth lawyer who will help you present a case for why the youth judges should be lenient with you. Another youth lawyer will argue why the consequences for you should be more severe. Instead you and your lawyer could agree to a deal with the other lawyer, although the judges must still approve the deal. Your parents have the right to attend Youth Court. An adult lawyer will also be present, but only to make sure your rights are protected. In most cases, the adults will not say or do anything during the proceeding. Youth Court is confidential and no one may attend except for you, the youth judges and lawyers, your parents or guardians, and one adult lawyer. In Youth Court, the punishment is often a requirement to perform a number of hours of community work service. To determine the number of community work service hours you must do, the judges will start at a benchmark, depending upon the seriousness of your offense. They will then subtract hours for certain mitigators (circumstances that partly excuse the crime and reduce the sentence) and add hours for certain aggravators (circumstances that make the crime worse and the punishment greater). Typical mitigators include: you are under fifteen years old, you have no history of trouble with the authorities, you admitted to the crime when confronted by authorities, the crime was principally committed by another person. Typical aggravators include: you are over fifteen years old, you have a prior criminal record, you were older than and influenced another person who was with you at the time you committed the Another sentence often imposed in Youth Court is a requirement to attend a class on the negative effects of the offense you committed, or on decision-making skills. Your sentence is also likely to include an essay discussing what you learned through the process of being arrested and participating in Youth Court.