Diversion Program Opportunities
Teen Court Program
Teen Court is a partnership between NWYS and Whatcom County Superior Court. It is a youth-run court in which juvenile offenders are held accountable for their actions by a jury of their peers. Teen Court is a diversion program, with the goal of offering youth an alternative to juvenile detention. This program is based upon the philosophy of ‘restorative justice’ rather than ‘punishment’. This program offers all participants, volunteers as well as offenders, the unique opportunity to learn about the consequences of criminal behavior and how it affects their community.
Information for Youth Offenders
- Teen Court is a voluntary program. The other option is Juvenile Court.
- At your intake appointment with Northwest Youth Services, you will read the police report, discuss your case, and fill out paperwork including a questionnaire.
- Student volunteers from participating schools will represent you and serve as your advocate at the hearing.
- Once you have chosen Teen Court, your case will be sent to one of the participating schools and they will begin work on presentations to the jury. Your defense advocates will contact you and your parents for a face to face meeting before your hearing date.
- On the night of your hearing, you will meet with your advocate at the courthouse. You will have an opportunity to make a statement to the jury otherwise your advocates will present your case to the jury. Your hearing will take about 20 minutes.
- After your hearing. you will meet with a representative from Northwest Youth Services to receive the contract terms you will complete.
- Once you complete your contract, you will not have a conviction nor will you have a criminal record. Also, your diversion files will not be public record.
- After I complete my Teen Court contract, can I volunteer to be part of the Teen Court Program? Absolutely, you can volunteer through your school and their Teen Court team.
- If you fail to complete your contract your case will be returned to the Prosecuting Attorney for further court action.
To learn more, view the Teen Court Manual.
In the Summer Jobs program, youth ages 14-18 who have completed their Teen Court contract or are on probation work with staff to find 6-week summer jobs, gaining new skills, financial support, and work experience.
Student Advisory Board (SAB)
- The Student Advisory Board is made up of a representative from each participating school. They meet once a month and make all decisions regarding Teen Court.
- Student Advisory Board members attend monthly meetings, come prepared to fill in vacant roles at the hearings, keep their teen court teams advised of decisions about Teen Court, help with any fundraisers and recruit/train new Teen Court volunteers.
- If you want to be a member, speak to your school’s Teen Court teacher and see if they need a representative. You must be willing to sign an oath of confidentiality.