Sussex Teen Court, Inc., is a non-profit organization sponsored
by the American Legion Auxiliary -
modeled after the Teen Court in Kent County, Delaware,
which has been successfully operating since January of 1999.
These programs capitalize on the philosophy that a youthful
law violator is less likely to continue being an offender -
when a peer
decides his/her sentence, and provides an opportunity to
learn from previous mistakes.
Thus, the program has a dual function: focusing on youth
accountability and providing educational services to both
offenders (ages 9-17 years old)
& pre-trained youth volunteers (grades 9-12,
county-wide), thus promoting positive development..
Teen Court is designed to change patterns of criminal
enhanced life skills & self-esteem
desire for self-improvement
a more positive attitude for authority and community involvement.
and when we operate:
Defendant participation in this program is voluntary & requires
an advance admission of guilt. The program is available
to some juvenile misdemeanor offenders, according to
eligibility criteria, determined by the State of Delaware’s
Attorney General’s office. Referred defendants are
ages 9 to 17 years old & must have parental or
Teen Court proceedings, which are generally held one evening
per month in Sussex County Family Court, the Judge introduces
the defendant to teen peer jurors, who are informed of
the charge(s) against the defendant. After hearing the evidence
presented by teen prosecuting
and defense attorneys,
the jury sentences the defendant. Their decision is reviewed by
the adult Judge & read to the defendant.
Eligible Offenses and Typical Sentences...
For Sussex Teen Court referrals include violations &
such as: shoplifting, criminal mischief, loitering, vandalism,
harassment, disorderly conduct, terroristic threatening, and
possession/consumption of alcohol.
Teen Court sentences are designed to fit the offense, and a typical
sentence could be any of the following:
apology (written and/or oral)
Court Jury Duty (minimum of 1 time required, max of 4)
Management/Conflict Resolution Counseling
Fire-Setter’s Intervention Program
The defendant may accept the sentence by the teen jury, or reject
elect to return before Family Court. Successful completion of
the Teen Court sentence results in no criminal offense record,
as long as certain requirements are met.
Thus, Teen Court provides a community-based alternative
to the formal court process, and it represents a more
positive, earlier intervention to the
juvenile justice system & focuses on youth
accountability, education, and
The right to a quick & uncomplicated sentence
The right to have their parents/guardians present
The right to defense counsel
The right to a proper Teen Court procedure
The right to an unbiased hearing
The right to appeal if procedure is improper
TEEN COURT OFFICE
P. O. Box 335
Georgetown, DE 19947
Teen Court Coordinator:
Lisa B. Venables