What is Teen Court?
Teen Court is a voluntary alternative program to the criminal justice system for teens that have committed first time misdemeanor offenses such as, but not limited to, shoplifting, damage to property, criminal mischief, school altercations, and drug & alcohol charges. The courtroom is run by teens that sentence their peers with the intent of repairing the harm caused by the offender, and providing education to make better decisions for their future.
Teen Court also offers an educational opportunity for teens who may be interested in the Criminal Justice field to earn community service and experience by becoming active members of the courtroom.
2017 Teen Court Student Volunteer Appreciation & Awards Night. Student volunteers went bowling and were recognized for all their hard work and dedication to the program!
Why Teen Court?
The philosophy of our Teen Court program is based on restorative justice and seeking to repair the harm done to the victim and the community. Teen Court strives to promote in the teens feelings of self-esteem, personal growth and accountability for their actions, and future.
How does Teen Court Work?
Teen Court hearings are held at our two courtroom locations. We have a rotation of district judges who oversee the courtroom, and Teen Court proceedings. UNH Law students mentor our teen attorneys with case preparation, and at the sentencing hearing. Defendants are questioned by both the teen defense and prosecution attorneys to determine the circumstances of the offense, and make closing remarks to the jury.
Our teen jury will than proceed to participate in a deliberation process where they will consider all of the facts and circumstances of the case. The teen jury will determine a fair and constructive sentence, which may include community service, jury duty, education programs, essays, restitution, and letters of apology to the victim.
Teen Court Student Volunteers sitting on the jury getting ready to deliberate for a sentencing hearing.
Where are the Teen Court hearings held?
Merrimack County Teen Court currently has two locations for sentencing hearings:
2 White Street, Concord NH 03301 ( UNH School of Law)
7 Hancock Terrace, Franklin NH 03235 ( Franklin District Courthouse)
Hearings are held every Tuesday (alternating locations) from 4:30-6:30 (times may vary depending on number of cases)
Please see schedule for exact dates and times for each location. Cancellations due to inclement weather , or other circumstances will be announced via Facebook, email, Mix 94.1 fm, and/or Remind ( App)
What is the Criteria to Participate(Offender)?
- Must be a first-time offender
- Offender must admit involvement/guilt of the offense
- Offender must be between the ages of 12-17
- Offender and parent/guardian must agree to participate in the program
What are the benefits of Teen Court?
- The teen offenders are held accountable for their actions.
- Both the teen offenders and teen volunteers learn about due process, restorative justice and the benefits of volunteering within their own community promoting positive improvements.
- Teen Court reduces the likelihood of repeat offenses, and serves as a positive and supportive learning experience.
- Teen Court offers a platform for the teen volunteers to learn public speaking skills, scholarships, and leadership opportunities.
Teen Court Volunteer Criteria
Teen Volunteers must be in middle or high school (ages 12-17) who may be interested in the criminal justice field, and a desire to improve their community and empower their peers. Teen Volunteers can assume various roles in the court room from Defense and Prosecution Attorneys, Bailiff, Court Clerk, and Jurors. Teen Volunteers will complete a free training program, and get to interact with various guest speakers and field trips. Teen Court volunteers get the opportunity to work side by side with presiding Judges on our legal system, and UNH Law Students who mentor the students who want to be student attorneys.
Teen Court Student Volunteers & UNH Law Mentors
Teen Court Student Volunteer of the Year & Adult Mentor of the Year
What are the Benefits of Volunteering?
- Earn community service hours for schools or groups
- Allows you to put experience on your college application, or job resume
- Learn about the legal system & career opportunities
- Meet teens from other towns & cities
- Work with real attorneys, judges, and law students
- Earn possible scholarships for your participation
- Letters of recommendations for college
- Opportunities to join a Teen Court Bar Association
Teen Court Student Volunteers participating in training program to learn more about the courtroom, and judicial system.
UNH Law Mentors presenting one of our student volunteers with the award of Volunteer of the Quarter
Chief Goldstein of Franklin Police Department came and talked to our Teen Court Student Volunteers. Teen Court has guest speakers from the community, and the criminal justice field to further expand the volunteer experience for our students.
For further information about the Teen Court Program and how you can become involved please contact:
Kristen Ivon, Teen Court Coordinator
Check us out on Facebook : Merrimack-county teen-court NH