The Talbot Teen Court program is a voluntary youth diversion program for first-time misdemeanor offenders. The program uses components of restorative justice to hold youth accountable for their offenses while avoiding formal criminal proceedings.
Respondents participate in a Teen Court hearing with a jury of peers. Prior to the hearing, the Respondent must admit involvement in the criminal activity for which he or she was charged.
During the hearing, the Teen Court jury will determine appropriate sanctions. Teen Court also seeks to connect young people and their families to resources that help promote positive youth development.
Teen Court partners with Mid Shore Mediation, which offers our respondents an 8-hour conflict management course that helps develop positive conflict management and communications skills. Mid Shore Mediation also offers our respondents mediation or conferencing, which provides a problem-solving solution fin a confidential and non-judgmental setting. Both conflict management and mediation/conferencing are disposition options for which a jury may sentence a respondent.
Click here for the Mid Shore Mediation brochure.
Teen Court is administered by the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office via funding from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention and supplemental funding from the Talbot County Council.
Talbot Teen Court uses the peer jury model, where youth court members assume the roles of judge, jurors, bailiff, clerk, and attorneys. A key feature of this model is consensus decision-making when determining sanctions. Sanctions may include community service, teen court jury duties, writing assignments and workshops or classes.
Talbot Teen Court receives youth referrals from participating partners, including law enforcement, for certain non-violent offenses. The program is open to Talbot County youth, ages 13-17, who are first-time offenders. Respondents must admit involvement in the criminal activity for which he or she was charged, prior to participation and agree to complete a mental health and substance abuse questionnaire. Failure to complete the program results in referral to the Department of Juvenile Services.
CLICK HERE for our program manual.