Once a juvenile offender case has been referred to the Third District Youth Court Program the case is screened by Youth Court staff. If the case meets Youth Court criteria the respondent along with his/her parents or guardians must agree to have the case heard by a jury of their peers and must agree to all eventual sentencing and probationary proceedings. Court proceedings are monitored by a Judge to ensure that both the victim’s rights, and the juvenile’s rights are recognized and that justice has been served.
All youth participating in Youth Court have admitted guilt to a crime or an offense and will appear for a sentencing hearing before a jury of peers. The jury is presented with evidence relevant to sentencing, deliberates, and passes sentence. By agreeing to proceed in Youth Court, an offender obtains certain benefits and waives certain rights that otherwise would attach in traditional criminal justice processing. Benefits include a decision by a jury of peers aimed at assisting the young person in desisting from criminal conduct, and an opportunity to participate positively in the criminal justice system. If the offender successfully completes the sentence, the case is ultimately dismissed and the youth does not have a record of conviction. Rights waived in Youth Court include the right to an attorney and to a trial for determination of guilt.