IF YOUR CASE HAS BEEN REFERRED TO MY BALTIMORE CITY TEEN COURT...
MY Baltimore City Teen Court receives the bulk of its cases from Baltimore City Police and School Police. From the time a case is referred to us, it is essentially "on hold" with Department of Juvenile Services, until the time at which the respondent completes his or her sanctions.
Once we receive a case, a letter is mailed to the respondent asking his/her parent or guardian to set up an "intake appointment" with our Teen Court Social Worker. At intake, the respondent, parent/guardian, and Social Worker talk about the requirements and expectations of Teen Court; namely:
"This experience is a journey...respondents go from 'delinquent' to 'young person who has positive experiences to include on a college application'." - Parent of Respondent
"Kids walk out of their homes every day into drug-infested neighborhoods. This [Teen Court] program, this diversion, deals with teaching and healing our communities." - Teen Court Adult Volunteer
Words you might hear at Teen Court
Adjudicate: to judge, decide, or review a formal matter.
Aggravating Circumstances: Factors that increase the seriousness of a crime, and that likely lead to an increase in the penalty or sanctions. For example, a Teen Court respondent has been charged with assault, and has a history of suspensions for school fights (there is a pattern of negative behavior).
Mitigating Factors: Conditions that do not excuse or justify a criminal action, but perhaps lessen the severity and are considered when determining the appropriate sanctions. For example, a Teen Court respondent has been charged with assault, but took it upon himself to apologize to the victim (favorable behavior).
Recidivism: generally speaking, a relapse into crime; specific to Teen Court, a youth who is re-arrested within one year of the previous arrest.
Respondent: a young person, charged with a crime, whose case is sent to Teen Court.
Restorative justice: is a form of justice that takes into account the needs of the victim and respondent, where the respondent takes an active role in accepting responsibility for, and repairing, the harm done (i.e. community service).
Sanction: a "penalty" or "punishment" for disobeying a rule or law. In Teen Court, sanctions are intended to be educational, rather than punitive, and based on community restitution. The most common ones are community service hours and Teen Court jury duties.