Teen court is the only program in Buncombe County that specifically receives referrals for first-time offenders with the intent to reduce recidivism through restorative justice. It addresses the needs of the juvenile court system by reducing the amount of juveniles actively on probation, the needs of the school system by working as an alternative to out of school suspension, and the needs of youth by working with clients on moderate to serious school behavior issues and poor decision making.
Clients are given the opportunity to take responsibility for their offense by participating in court proceedings held by trained youth & adult volunteers. Teen court does not decide guilt or innocence but centers on lowered recidivism through restorative justice. Sanctions for clients include community service, projects, and apology letters.
Who is eligible for 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. The program does not accept:
- An offense above a Class A-1 Misdemeanor
- Driving while impaired or any other motor vehicle violation
- Assault in which a weapon is used,
- A controlled substance offense under Article 5 of Chapter 90 of the North Carolina General Statutes, other than simple possession of a Schedule VI drug or alcohol offense.
Juveniles may also be referred from the school administration, school counselor, or school resource officer if participating in the school-based teen court program.
Buncombe County Teen Court recruits and trains youth between the ages of 13 and 18 to be volunteers in the program. All general youth volunteers are expected to complete a volunteer application, be given the basic volunteer orientation manual, and observe at least one teen court hearing before becoming an official volunteer. All youth volunteers must 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.
If you have questions about the teen court program or want to become a volunteer, please contact Jamie Lee McNabb, Teen Court Coordinator, at (828)707-2113 or firstname.lastname@example.org