For teenagers who break the law, being judged by a jury of one’s peers will soon have a more accurate meaning in Pearland.
Municipal Court is launching a new program for teen Class C misdemeanor offenders known as Teen Court, a program that has been popular in other cities throughout the country.
Also known as youth court, the program is specifically designed for teenagers – an alternative to regular sentencing for first-time offenders between 11 and 18.
Those who opt for teen court receive sentences from a jury of five to six teen-aged volunteers and prior offenders. The “jury” decides the number of community service hours, the term served and any other additional conditions – such as taking a driving safety class, alcohol/drug awareness course or writing a letter of apology.
Among requirements is one that the violator plead “no contest” or “guilty” in court with parent or guardian present, and request to participate in the teen court from a Pearland municipal judge.
Volunteer opportunities exist for both teens and adults. Those 11 to 18 can volunteer on the jury or – beginning next Spring – as a prosecuting or defense attorney. Students training for these roles will be held once every six months beginning this month.
Adults may serve as jury monitors, help check in participants or to monitor attire and conduct. Adult volunteer participation must be approved by the presiding municipal court judge.
The Teen Court program will be held at the Pearland Municipal Court every third Tuesday beginning Sept. 15. To volunteer or for more information, email [email protected] or call 281-997-5901.