Youth Court is a peer court that acts as a diversion from the traditional juvenile justice system. Youth offenders are offered the opportunity to have their cases heard in youth court rather than going before the Jackson County Family Court (“Family Court”). They are represented by juveniles, prosecuted by juveniles and judged by juveniles. While the youth court is administered by adults who conduct training and are present at court hearings to ensure guidelines are followed, the sentencing decisions are made by the juvenile judges after considering the evidence before them.
OBJECTIVES OF YOUTH COURT
The primary goals of the Kansas City Youth Court are to reduce incidents of juvenile crime, provide an alternative to the formal Family Court process and promote civic involvement by the young people who volunteer to serve on the youth court.
TYPE OF CASES YOUTH COURT HANDLES
The most common cases heard in Youth Court involve charges of trespassing, shoplifting, curfew violation, disorderly conduct, vandalism, assault, truancy, minor in possession of alcohol, narcotics possession and runaways.
HOW DOES IT WORK
The Kansas City Police Department or the Juvenile Office at the Family Court refer youth to be adjudicated in the youth court program. All young offenders appearing before the youth court are assigned a defense attorney to represent them. A youth attorney serving as prosecutor will engage in plea negotiations with the defense attorney or, if the charges are denied, will prosecute the case in a trial. Youth court hearings are presided over by a youth judge or panel of judges. If the youth offender is found guilty or admits committing the unlawful act, the judge(s) decide the appropriate sentence. A youth court sentence can include community service hours up to 50 hours, written or oral apologies and reflective essays and educational classes as available.
No fines or penalties will be imposed as long as the conditions set by the judge are satisfactorily completed.
A program like the Kansas City Youth Court serves the community in several ways: First, as a deterrent because low level offending youth receive consequences for delinquent behavior in the community that might otherwise be overlooked due to the number or severity of other juvenile crimes; Young people also learn about their legal rights and get an inside view of how the justice system works; Parents can be assured that their children will understand the increasing repercussions of criminal behavior and be held accountable with a measured response fitting the circumstances. Finally, the youth attorneys are allowed to assume meaningful positions of leadership that encourages continued volunteerism and civic engagement.
ADVANTAGES OF YOUTH COURT
Youth offenders are assisted and judged by peers who are subject to many of the same influences that lead to juvenile crime. Evening court times are often more convenient for parents/custodians. No court costs.
QUALIFICATIONS FOR MEMBERSHIP
Youth must be 13-18 years of age and a) reside in Kansas City or b) attend a school located in Kansas City or c) have significant connections with Kansas City, Missouri. Home schooled youth are welcome.
Youths between the ages of 13-18 participating in the program as Youth Court personnel will receive initial 14 hours of training by youth court staff and members of the Missouri Bar. In addition the students must take and pass a Bar Exam and be sworn in to office by an adult Judge.
The Kansas City Youth Court is a diversion program for the Jackson County Family Court in collaboration with the Kansas City Police Department and the Hickman Mills School District. We are funded, in part, by Jackson County COMBAT as a Prevention Program.
For information please call 816-235-1663 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org