What is Youth Court?
Youth Court is a voluntary alternative to the criminal justice system for young people who have committed a crime or an offense. The goal of Youth Court is to intervene in early anti-social, delinquent, and criminal behavior, and to reduce the incidence and prevent the escalation of such behavior. Youth Court strives to promote feelings of self-esteem and a desire for self-improvement, and to foster a healthy attitude towards rules and authority. Youth Court also offers a law-related education program for young people who seek to become members of the court.
What happens in Youth Court?
A youth, who has admitted guilt to a crime or an offense, appears for a sentencing hearing before a jury of peers. The jury is presented with evidence relevant to sentencing, deliberates, and passes sentence. Sentences typically include community services and counseling, and stress rehabilitative goals.
Who participates in Youth Court proceedings?
Youth Court proceedings involve an offender, jurors, and members in the roles of judges, prosecutors, defender, clerk/bailiff, and jury foreperson. Each of these individuals is under age eighteen. An adult serves as Coordinator. The offender must complete the sentence imposed by the jury, and in addition, must sit as a juror on at least one, and possibly several, cases of other offenders. The remaining jurors are drawn from any young people who wish to volunteer. Jurors do not take a course of instruction. Rather, they hear and see the evidence, listen to instructions from the judge, retire to deliberate in private, and agree on a sentence.
What types of cases are heard in Youth Court?
Cases are generally referred by judges, police, and probation departments to the Coordinator. The coordinator accepts cases meeting established criteria. Typical cases that may be heard in Youth Court include shoplifting, criminal mischief, larceny, and vandalism.
What does the jury decide?
The jury may impose a sentence that includes community service, restitution (monetary or in-kind), and attendance at classes or counseling sessions. The jury cannot sentence any youth to a detention facility or jail.
Members of Youth Court consist of young people who have successfully completed a multi-week law related education/training program. Areas of instruction include an overview of the criminal justice jurisdiction, and operation of youth court, the penal laws, the consequences of crime, and sentencing issues, including aggravation and mitigating circumstances, rehabilitation as a goal, and the nature and type of evidence that is admissible and probative in sentencing. The training program concludes with mocking hearings to prepare members for participation in Youth Court proceedings. Youth Court members will assume the following roles, on a rotating basis.
Colonie Youth Court Contact Information:
Colonie Youth Court
Public Safety Center
312 Wolf Road
Latham, NY 12110
Phone: (518) 782-2638