Teen Court

Teen Court is a juvenile justice program that works with young people and their families while embracing Restorative Justice Principles. Referrals can come from both the Ingham County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and Circuit Court—Family Division as well as local school districts who have partnered with Teen Court by referring “School Conduct Code Violation” students to the program in an effort to reduce suspensions and increase positive behavioral changes.

Teen Court Program Overview

Teen Court Referral Form

How Teen Court Works:

  • The youth must take responsibility for their offense at an Accountability Hearing.  The hearing includes a Peer Jury of local teenagers, the victim (if available/appropriate), and is presided over by a Cooley Law School professor, an Ingham County judicial official, or local attorneys. 
  • The Peery Jury determines a list of requirements (called a Final Disposition) the youth must complete to graduate from the Teen Court program. The Final Disposition order often includes:
    • Community service.
    • A commitment to attend and participate in an appropriate school program.
    • Weekly check in/progress calls with Teen Court staff.
    • Letters of apology to the youth’s family and the victim in the crime.
    • Restitution for the victim.
    • Participants receive a behavioral health screen or substance abuse assessment along with the appropriate referral to an area program to assist with any identified concerns.
    • Request the youth to return to serve as a Peer Juror, affording them the opportunity to contribute to the community and become part of the solution.
  • Participation in weekly Street Law workshops to build skills such as anger management, conflict resolution, communication, and problem solving. Parents are provided with their own group, “Staying Connected to Your Teen” for parenting education and support.
  • After all requirements are completed (usually between 90 -120 days in length) the petition is dismissed and the youth does not incur a formal juvenile criminal record.   

Space generously provided by Cooley Law School and Mason Courthouse.