Skip to Content Skip to menu Skip to links

Frequently Asked Questions For Teen Court / Teen Court Too

Welcome to the questions and answers area.
We have a large database of FAQs so we have organized them by topic. For frequently asked questions related to a specific topic, select it from the list below.

  

Who gets sent to Teen Court and by whom?
Any juvenile who breaks the law and is charged with any misdemeanor, has no prior record and admits guilt. Referrals come to us from Law enforcement, Juvenile Court, the State Attorney’s Office and the Department of Juvenile Justice.
What offenses may be diverted to Teen Court?
The Manatee County State Attorney’s Office has pre-approved that ANY misdemeanor can be diverted to Teen Court. The only exception to this rule is a child accused of domestic battery when the victim is a parent. In addition, non-violent felonies may be referred to Teen Court at the discretion of the Juvenile Court Judge.
Is Teen Court mandatory?
Once a case is referred to TC/TCT, attendance and participation are mandatory. If a teen does not attend or participate, the case will be sent to Juvenile Court for prosecution. Most teens participate fully and appreciate the Teen Court experience.
What if I don’t or can’t show up for my Teen Court appointment?
If you don’t show up and you were referred, you should call the office to speak with the Coordinator. Otherwise, you face being violated out of the program. If you can’t show up, please call our office in advance at 941-741-4027.
What happens in Teen Court?
Peers of the defendants occupy the roles of the attorneys, clerk, bailiff and the jury. The attorneys come early on court days, look over the docket and the cases and they decide who is going to prosecute or defend each defendant whose case is being heard that day. At a previously determined hour, the Judge enters the courtroom and we begin the first case. Each attorney makes opening statements, then we have the questioning period during which time the defendant, under oath, goes to the witness box and answers questions about the incident. The jury then listens to the defendant, observes his/her demeanor and assimilates the information. After the questioning is over, we have closing arguments during which time the attorneys ask for a sentence. The judge instructs the jury to go into the Jury Deliberating Room, pick a foreperson and unanimously arrive at a sentence. The sentence will be 15-75 hours of community service work, 3-8 jury duties, letters of apology, an essay, curfew, house arrest, suspension of driver’s license, AA meeting(s), NA meeting(s), if necessary drug classes and a drug screen if drug related and anger management sessions when necessary. Most sentences do not contain all the above but some of what is stated. The defendant and parents then sign a contract agreeing to complete the conditions in a prescribed time frame. The defendant and family leave with a copy of the contract understanding this is what needs to be done in order to successfully complete the Teen Court/Teen Court Too program.
When and where is Teen Court held?
We meet every Tuesday throughout the year, except for about 5 times per year, on the fourth floor of the Judicial Center. We begin at 5:15 PM and usually complete hearings by 7:15 PM.
Can anyone sit in and watch Teen Court hearings?
If someone wishes to observe our courtrooms, please notify us in advance by calling 941-741-4027 so we know who to expect. Also we require confidentiality for the participants present that evening and swear an oath of confidentiality in our courtrooms.
How can I volunteer to be on the Teen Court?
Adult and youthful volunteers are always welcome in our courtrooms. Usually the best way is to call our office and arrange a time before court so we may meet the prospective volunteer. Sometimes we have enough time to mail out information, our brochure and the training manual to the interested person. You may also complete the Teen Court Volunteer Form and mail it to our office.
Who decides the punishment at Teen Court?
The teen jury decides on the sentence and fills out the sentencing form and reads it to the defendant in the courtroom.
What happens if I don’t complete the Teen Court program?
The complete police affidavit and any supplemental information are sent to the Juvenile Court Office and to the State Attorney’s Office. The State Attorney may formally charge the juvenile and a Deputy will appear at your house with a summons to attend Juvenile Court with your parents. Now the offender will have the opportunity to face a real Judge.
How many times can I go to Teen Court?
As a volunteer, as many times as you would like to; as a juvenile referral who has received a sentence from a teen jury, it depends on the number of jury duties stated on the sentencing form. Then your attendance is mandatory.