Olathe Youth Court
Olathe Youth Court is an alternative to the formal juvenile justice system in which juvenile offenders are sentenced by a jury of their peers. The goal of Youth Court is to reduce the number of youth entering the court system by providing early intervention to youth who commit first-time minor offenses.
What volunteer opportunities are available?
Various volunteer positions (judges, prosecuting and defense attorneys, bailiffs, jury members) are available for youth ages 10-17. Youth participants may determine their own level of involvement. All Youth Court participants receive training related to their role, as well as community service hours for time spent volunteering.
Who participates in Youth Court hearings?
Hearings involve the respondent, the parent or guardian, attorneys, judges, juries and bailiffs. Respondents and volunteers must be between the ages of 10-17. Volunteers who are 18 years old and a senior in high school may also participate. The program is operated under the guidance of Johnson County District Attorney's Office, legal interns and school sponsors.
Youth Court Basics
What are the benefits of Youth Court?
It holds youth offenders accountable for their actions and youths avoid a formal juvenile record if the program is successfully completed. Youth Court provides an avenue for youths to assume leadership roles, and actively take part in addressing the problem of juvenile crime in the community.
What happens at Youth Court?
A youth who had admitted involvement in an offense appears before the court for a sentencing hearing. The respondent, parent or guardian, along with any identified victim in the case are given an opportunity to address the court. The jury deliberates and passes a sentence appropriate to the offense committed.
What types of cases are heard in Youth Court?
Cases are referred by the district attorney's office based on established criteria. Examples of cases heard include battery / assault, criminal damage to property, criminal trespass, theft, and disorderly conduct.
What types of sanctions can be assigned in Youth Court?
They include community service hours, apology letter, restitution, educational workshops, Youth Court jury duty, or additional sanctions.
What happens if a referred student chooses not to go through Youth Court?
Youth Court is voluntary, therefore youth and their parents or guardians have the right to refuse the option of Youth Court. Parents or guardians must notify the Youth Court supervisor and the case will be filed by the district attorney's office or school administration for disciplinary action. Failure to appear at the initial hearing will result in further action.
How to Participate
Interested students may participate in a Youth Court session as a juror and can attend training sessions to become a Youth Court volunteer. Trained students who have served on two juries are eligible to work as attorneys, judges, bailiffs, and clerks. Attorneys and judges should arrive at the courthouse no later than 5:30 p.m., and jurors should arrive no later than 5:45 p.m.
Court sessions are typically on designated Tuesdays on the second floor of the Johnson County Courthouse. Only participants who have been trained and signed up will be allowed into the courthouse.
Email Breanna Francis at Olathe East High School for more information about Youth Court. Kristen Christensen is Youth Court supervisor for the Johnson County District Attorney's Office. She can be reached via email or by calling 913-715-7432.