Statistics & Stuff

The Big Picture.

Teen Court hears misdemeanors (crimes that if committed by a adult could result in a fine and/or confinement in jail for not more than 90 days or both). These include traffic tickets, shoplifting , criminal trespassing, criminal damage under $1000.00, disorderly conduct, resisting/obstructing an officer, simple assault, simple battery, public affray, illegal possession of marijuana under 1 oz., possession of drug paraphernalia, illegal possession/use of spray paint, consumption/possession of alcohol, possession of a deadly weapon. (While DWI is a misdemeanor, they will only be referred to Teen Court by approval of the District Attorney’s Office)

Offenders plead guilty (with parental consent) to their offenses and accept a sentence from a jury of their peers. Teen Court does not have the authority or the ability to hand down sentences of guilt or innocence - only the authority to assess the sentence for the offender. The sentences range from volunteer work at many community service agencies, to jury duties in Teen Court, to Defensive Driving and Chemical Abuse Workshops. Upon completion of their sentences (within a specific period of time ) the referring agency agrees to dismiss charges on the youth.

What is Teen Court's purpose?

The purpose of Teen Court of Chaves County Inc. is to provide a program called Teen Court. Teen Court is to reinforce in young people, ages 12 to 17 (less than 18), to take responsibility for their actions. Many times when young people get in trouble with the law or school authorities, the experience is a negative one. We want to take their "negative" action and turn it into a positive experience. The mission of Teen Court of Chaves County is to benefit youth and the community by providing an alternative method of adjudicating minor juvenile offenses which give youth the opportunity to participate in, and become knowledgeable of, the justice system.

Teen Court is based upon the philosophy that a youthful law violator does not continue to be an offender when a peer jury decides punishment. Evidence from many cities seems to indicate that young people not only stay out of trouble following a Teen Court appearance, but that hundreds of thousands of dollars are saved by the community.

It is hoped that Teen Court will interpret developing patterns of criminal behavior by promoting feelings of self-esteem, motivation for self improvement and development of a healthy attitude for authority. For the offender as well as the non-offender who serves on the jury, Teen Court challenges youth to perform at their highest level of ability, and places a high priority on educating young people of the responsibilities of an individual, family member, and citizen.

What goals does Teen Court plan to achieve?

Teen Court's goals are:

1) Hold juvenile offenders responsible for their actions with logical and consistent consequences.

2) Encourage a sense of responsibility on the part of the juvenile offender.

3) Promote a healthy attitude toward authority, by showing that fairness and justice are the better choices for all.

4) Provide an effective forum for juveniles to become familiar with the court system.

5) Reduce involvement of juvenile offenders with the criminal justice system.

6) Reduce the likelihood of repeat offenders.

7) Help juvenile offenders recognize the effects of their behavior in the community.

8) Involve the community to promote understanding and help to deter juvenile offenses.

How are cases referred to Teen Court?

Teen Court will receive referrals from the Magistrate Court, City of Roswell Municipal Court, Dexter Municipal Court, Hagerman Municipal Court, Lake Arthur Municipal Court, Children Youth and Family, Juvenile Probation (JPPO) [1st and 2nd misdemeanor offenses], Magistrate Court and Children's Court Division of the District Court and starting in 1999 any Middle School or High School. The referral procedure outlines the procedural track through Teen Court.

Referrals made by JPPO occur after the youth’s preliminary inquiry or the filing of a Delinquency Petition. Therefore, none of the "clocks" in the Children’s Code begin to run. Should the youth be rejected or fail to successfully complete Teen Court, he/she has not waived any rights under the Juvenile Justice System. His/Her case is referred back to the JPPO. Referrals from Magistrate or Municipal Courts are made after the youth pleads guilty, and has no more than one prior misdemeanor with the Juvenile Probation and Parole Office. Protection of the teens right to counsel are the responsibility of the Magistrate or Municipal Judge. If the teen contests not guilty, he will not be referred to Teen Court. Since the statements made in Teen Court are made after an admission of guilt and are not pursuant to a Waiver of Right to Counsel, they are inadmissible in any subsequent proceeding. If a teen pleads guilty and later changes his/her mind, he/she will be referred back to the original referring agency for further action.

Once the youth in question agrees to participate, and a referral is made, a meeting called a Screening/Orientation is scheduled with both the youth and the parent at the Teen Court office in the Teen Court offices located at 200 West First Street, Suite 524, in Roswell (in the Petroleum Building). In the event of a referral from the Pecos Valley, the teen (and his/her parent ) will be asked to meet the Teen Court Coordinator in one of the Town Halls in Dexter, Hagerman, or Lake Arthur, depending on the number of referrals from each community. The purpose of this meeting is to talk with the person about the offense, set a court date, and get the required paperwork signed. On the court date the child and a parent appear in the courtroom at the Roswell Magistrate Court.


Initially, a jury panel and attorneys were solicited from the respective middle and high schools in each School District. After the first few sessions, a jury panel will include defendants serving their sentences. Teen attorneys will be trained by a practicing attorney at a workshop, presented by a local attorney, Public Defender or Assistant District Attorney. Jury members will receive instruction form either the coordinator or designee at each session.

What if there was no Teen Court?

In the absence of Teen Court, many cases might never reach any kind of court. With Teen Court, the youth accepts the responsibility for his or her actions and takes an active role in clearing his/her record. Quite an impact is made when a teenage jury has sole discretion in handing down sentences. The juvenile defendant receives this sentence from his peers. The defendant then sees that the teenage jury is saying, "We, as your peers, do not agree with your actions, breaking the law is not acceptable." A juvenile is more likely to listen to one of their own, as opposed to an adult or the system. After all, their peers are the ones from whom they seek acceptance.

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