IS PEER COURT?
The Supervising Juvenile Court Judge in cooperation with the Superintendent
of Schools of Nevada County, the Probation Department, District
Attorney, Public Defender, members of the Juvenile Justice/Delinquency
Prevention Commission and the local bar association has established
a county wide Peer Court. The goal of Peer Court is to reduce juvenile
crime by keeping first-time offenders from committing future crimes
and deterring non-offenders from criminal conduct.
Peer Court accomplishes its goals in two ways:
- First, the program provides certain first-time juvenile offenders,
charged with certain infractions and misdemeanor crimes, with
an opportunity to participate in a diversionary program. The juveniles
are given the option to avoid the juvenile justice system and
instead, to be sentenced by a jury of their peers. Students learn
about the rights and responsibilities of individuals in our legal
system so that they make more informed choices in the way they
conduct their personal lives.
- Students from the eighth grade through high school are introduced
to the criminal justice system by participating in the sentencing
hearing. They will be exposed to the consequences of unlawful
conduct. In addition, students participate in a series of classes
designed to educate teens about the criminal justice system and
to discourage them from engaging in delinquent behavior in the
DOES PEER COURT WORK?
Peer Court is held in Department 3 (three) of the Nevada County
Superior Court, 201 Church Street, Nevada City. Peer Court is held
in the evenings, the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month at 6:00
p.m. Each Peer Court consists of a two-hour session during which
one to four separate sentencing hearings are held.
Youth selected from participating school districts perform the roles
of prosecuting attorney, defense attorney, bailiff, clerk, and jurors.
Real attorneys act as mentors to the youth in the roles of prosecutor
and defense attorney.
Juvenile offenders in Peer Court must admit committing the offense
and sign a contract stating that they agree to be sentenced by the
Peer Court jury. Additionally, a parent or guardian must give consent
and agree to be present at the sentencing hearing.
Juvenile offenders must sign a contract pledging to complete the
Peer Court sentence and must check frequently with their Case Manager,
an adult who provides guidance and encourages the defendant to complete
the Peer Court sentence.
If the offender successfully completes the Peer Court sentence,
then the Peer Court Coordinator will forward the contract to local
law enforcement and the offender will have avoided a juvenile court
record. However, if the offender fails to complete the contract
as outlined, the Police Department notifies the case manager who
may reinstate formal juvenile proceedings against him or her, which
may result in a juvenile record.
- WRITING ASSIGNMENT (S)
- Letter of Apology (to victim(s) and parents)
- Topic Essay
- Research Paper
- Shoplifting Counseling, Anger Management, Drug & Alcohol
Awareness, School Success, Juvenile Delinquency, MADD, Victim
- Graffiti Clean-up
- Fine/Restitution to Victim
- Community Service
- Correctional Facility Tour
- Drug Testing
- Imposed Curfew
- Dispute Resolution
- Home Restriction
- Chores in the Home
- Attend Criminal Trial
- Presentation to Class/Youth Group
- Tutor/mentor a Grade School Child
- Volunteer at School
- Ride along with law enforcement
- Jury may devise other sentence requirements
Reduce occurrence of repeat offenders; Deter non-offenders from
engaging in criminal conduct; Utilize the energy and creativity
of youth to benefit the community; Educate youth on adult civic
responsibility; Hold young offenders accountable to their victims
and the community
Provide youth with hands-on experience in the judicial system;
Promote awareness among youth of the dangers of criminal activity;
Instill in youth a sense of connection and responsibility to the
community; Expose high school students to the consequences of
The Juvenile Offender
Avoid a juvenile record; Develop responsibility and accountability
for one's actions; Early intervention to prevent a potential pattern
of criminal behavior.