Buncombe County Teen Court

Teen Court is the only program in both Buncombe County that specifically receives referrals for first-time offenders. Our intent is to reduce recidivism by diverting clients from the juvenile court system or out-of-school suspension. Clients are given the opportunity to take responsibility for their offense by participating in court proceedings held by trained youth and adult volunteers.

Buncombe County Teen Court
Clients referred to the Teen Court program that occurs at the Buncombe County Courthouse are given the opportunity to take responsibility for their offense by participating in court proceedings held by trained youth and adult volunteers.

Teen Court does not decide guilt or innocence but centers on lowered recidivism through restorative justice and encouraging positive changes in behavior. Sentencing for clients includes community service, projects, and interactive journals.

Who is eligible for this type of Teen Court?
Teen court accepts and serves first-time juvenile offenders between the ages of 11 and 16 who have admitted guilt to their offense and voluntarily agree to the program. Clients come from all areas of Buncombe County and are referred from a Division of Juvenile Justice intake court counselor.

Volunteers:
Buncombe County Teen Court recruits and trains youth between the ages of 13 and 18 to be volunteers in the program. All youth volunteers must complete an application, attend training, adhere to a dress code, and agree to treat each hearing with complete confidentiality. Any volunteer breaking confidentiality by discussing a teen court case outside of the hearing will be immediately removed as a volunteer in the program.

All youth volunteers wishing to become peer attorneys must attend the attorney training, which is a 5-hour additional training, and pass the Teen Court bar exam with a grade of at least 70%.

Adult volunteers are recruited as judges and as additional help during Teen Court hearings. All adult volunteers must fill out a volunteer application and have a background check and fill out a confidentiality and conflict of interest agreement.

Buncombe County Teen Court is held on the 2nd and 4th Monday of the month at 5:30pm in the Buncombe County Courthouse, 60 Court Plaza, Asheville, NC 28801

School-Based Teen Court
This program is an alternative to out-of-school suspension for middle school students that have been in limited trouble (no out of school suspensions within the current school year) but are now facing out-of-school suspension.

Clients participate in a court hearing presided over by a jury of peers, rather than receiving out-of-school suspension. This allows the student to reduce absences, stay in the classroom for important instruction, and continue after school activities once Teen Court is completed. Referrals are received from the administration of the school, the School Counselor, or SRO and all clients must admit guilt to the offense for which they are accused.

Who is eligible for this type of Teen Court?
Students who attend a school participating in School-Based Teen Court are eligible if they have not had out-of-school suspension during the current school year, their family agrees to be involved in the program, they are deemed appropriate for the program, and they admit guilt to their offense.

Volunteers:
School-Based Teen Court staff recruits and trains 24 students from the 8th grade class of their participating middle school as volunteers. All youth volunteers must complete an application, attend training, adhere to a dress code, and agree to treat each hearing with complete confidentiality. Any volunteer breaking confidentiality by discussing a teen court case outside of the hearing will be immediately removed as a volunteer in the program.

School-Based Teen Court is currently in operations at Enka Middle School and will begin at Asheville Middle School in the fall of 2019.

If you have questions about any of the Buncombe County Teen Court programs or want to become a volunteer, please contact:

Jamie Lee Willocks, Teen Court Coordinator, at (828)707-2113 or jamielee@buncombealternatives.org