What is Peer Court?
Peer Court is an alternative system of justice, which offers first-time juvenile offenders ages of 11-16 an opportunity to admit responsibility for their offences and receive constructive sentencing from their peers. Offences include truancy, classroom disruption, simple affray, and other appropriate offenses. Peer Court also provides a “hands on” educational experience for student volunteers in an effort to help them better understand our system of justice.
Peer Court does not determine guilt or innocence; rather it recommends a constructive sentence for the juvenile defendant that includes restitution, community service, and counseling.
A juvenile referred to Peer Court appears before a jury of peers and is defended and prosecuted by peers. Evidence indicates that not only do young people stay out of trouble following their Court appearance, but the program also saves thousands of dollars in community expenses and allows the juvenile courts to concentrate more time and energy on critical juvenile offenders.
How Does It Work?
The Peer Court process begins when the coordinator receives a referral from school administration, school resource officer or school social worker.
If the coordinator decides the case is appropriate for Peer Court, the coordinator will contact the juvenile and his/her parents or guardian. At this time the juvenile is given the opportunity to voluntarily admit responsibility for the offense and participate in the Peer Court program.
An interview is scheduled with the coordinator, the juvenile, and his/her parents or guardians. The parties must sign an agreement for voluntary participation with the understanding that no criminal/undisciplined charges will be pursued on the offense if the juvenile successfully completes all Peer Court requirements.
At this time, rules and regulations for the program are discussed and a Peer Court appearance date is set. The juvenile is assured that all Peer Court proceedings will be held in strict confidence.
Who Benefits and How?
Juvenile defendants are given a second chance; student volunteers learn about the legal system and careers in the legal field; the community saves thousands of dollars.
Become a Teen or Peer Court Volunteer!
Teen and Peer Courts rely on student and adult volunteers to provide an alternative justice system which encourages youth to take responsibility for their actions and correct their mistakes.
The youth offender is defended and prosecuted by peers, student volunteers. A jury of peers then imposes constructive sentencing which may include restitution, community service, or counseling. Adult volunteers act as mentors and instruct the student volunteers in courtroom etiquette.
For information contact:
Teen Court Program
Susan Lamm, Peer Court Coordinator
927 Old Fayetteville Road, Leland, NC28451
910.253.5327 ext. 1713