The 21st Judicial District Youth Court offers an alternative to prosecution in the juvenile justice system. The purpose of youth court is to direct juvenile offenders away from the formal court system while still holding them accountable for their actions. Youth court is a voluntary program where offenders can take responsibility for their actions while avoiding a criminal record.
Crimes Heard in Youth Court Typical referrals are first time misdemeanor offenses. Crimes can include misdemeanor law violations such as theft, simple assault, property damage, possession of alcohol, and possession of marijuana. Other crimes include status offenses such as truancy or curfew violations.
Youth court is held two evenings per month at the Riley County Courthouse. Youth volunteers and returning defendants serve in the roles of the clerk, and jury member. An adult judge is present to keep the proceedings on track. The defendant is allowed to give his / her version of the events with the clerk reading a summary of the police report. The jury members and adult judge follow with questions for the defendant. After, the jury deliberates and returns with sanctions the defendant must complete the sanctions in 90 or 180 days depending on the offense.
Provides early intervention and new opportunities for juveniles
Volunteers gain exposure to the legal system
Community service can help juveniles learn responsibility
Victims know the defendant is being held accountable
The Role of a Jury Member: The jury is comprised of volunteers from local schools and returning defendants. Each member must sign a confidentiality oath which prohibits the youth from sharing the information concerning the defendants and their cases outside of the courtroom. Each member must ask the defendant a minimum of one question. The jury will select a foreperson for each case to announce the sanctions decided.
The Role of the Clerk: The juvenile clerk is responsible for announcing the defendant for each case along with its corresponding case number. They also read the summary of the police report after the defendant gives their account of the events.
Sanction Guidelines can include:
Community service hours
One to five youth court jury duty nights
Apology to victim
Topic appropriate essay
Random drug and alcohol testing
Alcohol and drug Information School
Youth court offers volunteer opportunities for both youth and adults. Youth can volunteer to serve on the jury and can receive community service hours for their participation and adults can volunteer to serve as a judge.