Teen Court

Sussex Teen Court, Inc., is a non-profit organization sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary -  modeled after the Teen Court in Kent County, Delaware, which has been successfully operating since January of 1999. These programs capitalize on the philosophy that a youthful law violator is less likely to continue being an offender - when a peer jury decides his/her sentence, and provides an opportunity to learn from previous mistakes.

Thus, the program has a dual function: focusing on youth accountability and providing educational services to both offenders (ages 9-17 years old)  & pre-trained youth volunteers (grades 9-12, county-wide), thus promoting positive development.. Teen Court is designed to change patterns of criminal behavior, by: 

·                      Promoting enhanced life skills & self-esteem

·                      Motivating desire for self-improvement

·                      Developing a more positive attitude for authority and community involvement.

How and when we operate:

Defendant participation in this program is voluntary & requires an advance admission of guilt. The program is available to some juvenile misdemeanor offenders, according to eligibility criteria, determined by the State of Delaware’s Attorney General’s office.  Referred defendants are ages 9 to 17 years old & must have parental or guardian consent.

           In Teen Court proceedings, which are generally held one evening per month in Sussex County Family Court, the Judge introduces the defendant to teen peer jurors, who are informed of the charge(s) against the defendant. After hearing the evidence presented by teen prosecuting and defense attorneys, the jury sentences the defendant. Their decision is reviewed by the adult Judge & read to the defendant.

Some Eligible Offenses and Typical Sentences...

           For Sussex Teen Court referrals include violations & misdemeanors, such as: shoplifting, criminal mischief, loitering, vandalism, harassment, disorderly conduct, terroristic threatening, and possession/consumption of alcohol.

Teen Court sentences are designed to fit the offense, and a typical sentence could be any of the following: 

·                      An apology (written and/or oral)

·                      Teen Court Jury Duty (minimum of 1 time required, max of 4)

·                      Community Service

·                      Research Paper

·                      Shoplifter’s Anonymous

·                      Anger Management/Conflict Resolution Counseling

·                      Juvenile Fire-Setter’s Intervention Program

·                      Restitution

·                      Other 

The defendant may accept the sentence by the teen jury, or reject  it and elect to return before Family Court. Successful completion of the Teen Court sentence results in no criminal offense record, as long as certain requirements are met.

Thus, Teen Court provides a community-based alternative to the formal court process, and it represents a more positive, earlier intervention to the juvenile justice system & focuses on youth accountability, education, and positive development.


Offenders’ Rights  

·           The right to a quick & uncomplicated sentence hearing

·                      The right to have their parents/guardians present

·                      The right to defense counsel

·                      The right to a proper Teen Court procedure

·                      The right to an unbiased hearing

·                      The right to appeal if procedure is improper 


P. O. Box 335
Georgetown, DE 19947
(302) 856-9810

Teen Court Coordinator:
Lisa B. Venables





Application Latest News Calendar


Note:  Every effort is made to insure the information provided on the pages is timely and correct.  However, users should keep in mind that this information is provided only as a public convenience.   In any case where legal reliance on information is required, the official records of Sussex Teen Court should be consulted.