The Teen Court model was made to offer alternative, youth-centered sentencing options in order to repair harm and prevent future criminal behavior. In Teen Court, youth are literally judged by a jury of their teen peers. Through creative sentences that promote self-esteem and encourage positive life choices, former offenders are more likely to avoid criminal behavior in favor of building better lives for themselves.
What makes the Teen Court Program work?
Restorative Practices for Teens by Teens is more than a slogan, it’s what we’ve been doing since Teen Court was founded in 1994. Over 100 teen volunteers work with their at-risk peers every year and find ways to repair harm by using peer pressure in a positive way.
After an offense takes place, youth are referred to the Teen Court Program for sentencing. Upon receiving a case, staff will contact the family to schedule a hearing. Youth are given 3 months to complete their sentence. After completing all requirements, the referring party is notified. Charges (if applicable) are dismissed & eventually sealed & expunged.
Step 1 – Your hearing
Step 2 – Your sentence
Every youth in the Teen Court program is given a sentence (classes, community service, and other requirements) that they must complete by a 3 month due date. The sentence is given by a panel or jury of other teens. This sentence is designed to address each youth’s specific needs and interests.
Each youth must complete a Teen Court Jury Duty, which lets them sit on the other side of the table & help decide a sentence for another youth. This shows them that their voice has an impact on others.
Every youth is given community service hours to complete. Community service allows youth to put energy back into their community. It also teaches the importance of team work and social responsibility.
These are programs provided by partners in the community.
Step 3 – Your involvement and responsibility
Youth in the Teen Court Program have 3 months to complete their sentence. In those 3 months, they must attend all required classes, complete the required number of community service hours, and complete any other requirements (apology letters, drug tests, art projects etc.).
Turn in your documents
- Community Service logs
- Apology Letters
- Art Projects
Show up for class
Come to each class offered by both the Teen Court Program and classes offered by community partners.
- Call and schedule your class with community partners
- Put all class dates on the calendar
Check-in with your case manager
Remember to stay in contact with Teen Court Program staff and inform them of anything that slows down your progress.
Stay out of trouble
New charges/offenses can keep you from finishing the Teen Court Program.
Youth in the Teen Court Program may receive the following classes. These programs are held after school on various weekday evenings. Call the Forge Evolution office if you have any questions at 719-475-7815.
Referrals and forms
These are common forms that participants may need. Feel free to download them. If you are being referred to the Teen Court Program, your school administrator, a police officer, or the court will send your case referral to our office. Please call the office as soon as possible to see what the next steps in the process are for you.
All youth in the Teen Court program must bring a parent/guardian to their sentencing hearing (Peer Panel, Trial, or Mediation) along with their court fee. The process may take up to 3 hours. The youth and parent/guardian will receive more information in the mail before the hearing date explaining the process and what to expect.
Once the youth finish their Teen Court sentence, they will receive an evaluation in the mail. After returning the evaluation to Forge Evolution, youth will receive a Certificate of Completion & information about their record being sealed and expunged.
When youth finish their Teen Court sentence, a compliance report is sent to the City Attorney’s Office. The City Attorney’s Office requires an appropriate amount of time to process all necessary dismissal paperwork. If a defendant fails to complete their sentence by the 3-month due date, they will be in non-compliance of their deferred sentence. Youth may have to appear in court on their review date with a parent/guardian if the sentence is unfinished, or finished close to their review date. Appearance in court varies based on youth, please reach out to Forge Evolution staff with any questions.
- The City Attorney’s Office will mail a letter stating whether or not the youth is required to appear in court on their review date. If the youth completes all requirements of their deferred sentence (up to and including no new criminal charges), they may be released from having to appear in court.
- IF THE YOUTH HAS NOT RECEIVED A LETTER FROM THE CITY ATTORNEY’S OFFICE ONE WEEK BEFORE THEIR REVIEW DATE, CONTACT STAFF IMMEDIATELY.
- The Teen Court program requires all community service to be completed at a NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION. Community service may also be completed at a school, church, or community center.
- Please understand that any organization has the right to deny community service hours. A list of possible locations to perform community service will be provided.
- IT IS THE YOUTH’S RESPONSIBILITY TO SCHEDULE AND COMPLETE THEIR HOURS AND TURN IN A SIGNED COPY OF THEIR TIME SHEET AS PROOF OF COMPLETION. FAILURE TO COMPLETE REQUIRED HOURS WILL RESULT IN NON-COMPLIANCE.
If a youth receives a new criminal charge, they are still required to complete their sentence & must appear on their review date with a parent/guardian to review their case before a judge.
- A copy of any apology letter required must be provided as proof of completion. If the apology letter is to a store/business, it will be sent to the them. If the apology letter is to a victim, it will also be sent to the appropriate person(s). After the youth has presented the apology letter to their parents, a copy must still be provided as proof of completion.
- If an apology letter is not acceptable due to lack of effort and/or copying, the youth will be contacted and required to rewrite a new apology letter with additional requirements.
- Once the youth completes all conditions of their six month deferred sentence, the charge is dismissed and the guilty plea is then withdrawn.
- The court will send notice to the City Attorney’s office that this record of a juvenile with a violation of a municipal code or ordinance, excluding offenses charged pursuant to title forty-two, will automatically be expunged 42 days after the completion of the deferred sentence.
- As provided in 19-1-306(a)(a.5), C.R.S., any criminal justice record of a juvenile who has been charged, adjudicated or convicted as a repeat or mandatory juvenile offender shall be available for use by the court, a district attorney, any law enforcement agency, city attorney, department of human services, victim, or any agency of the state judicial department in any subsequent criminal investigation, prosecution, or adjudication or during probation or parole supervision. Expunged records will not be available to an agency of the military forces of the United States.
- The participant’s essay must be the complete length ordered at the sentencing hearing. It must be the full page length per page. It does not need to be typed, but if it is, it must be 12-point font with 1-inch margins. If it is hand written, it must be normal size writing, full lines, and complete pages. If the participant has a question regarding format, they can contact staff.
- The essay must be in the youth’s original words and not copied from any person or online source. If it is determined that an essay or a portion of an essay has been copied, the youth will be contacted and further sentencing will be imposed.
- If a youth fails to complete their Teen Court sentence by the three month due date, they will be in non-compliance and will receive a letter in the mail. The youth will have to appear in court on their review date with a parent/legal guardian. In certain cases, the youth may have less than three months to complete their sentence. All questions regarding sentence completion will be answered after the sentencing hearing at outprocessing by a member of the Teen Court program staff.
- If the youth fails to complete all requirements of their Teen Court sentence, they will receive a letter from the City Attorney’s Office stating that they are REQUIRED TO APPEAR IN COURT WITH THEIR PARENT/LEGAL GUARDIAN ON THEIR REVIEW DATE to speak to a judge.
- Youth sent to the Teen Court Program directly by their school or an officer/deputy are given the chance to complete the program and not get formal charges.
- Youth who come to Forge Evolution’s Teen Court Program as a pre-ticket case come through the same sentencing process and are sentenced to the same type of requirements as regular youth who were ticketed. After finished all of their sentence, a Notice of Full Compliance will be sent to the youth’s school or the referring officer and a ticket will NOT be issued.
- Not completing your sentence may result in a ticket being issued and more court dates and fees. Successful completion of a pre-ticket sentence ensures that no formal criminal charges are filed and the youth will NOT have a record.