Youth Court

youth court

What is Youth Court?

Oswego County Youth Court is a recognized community diversion program aimed at reducing juvenile delinquency in the City and County of Oswego. It is a tribunal trial-by-peers process for first time offenders between the ages of seven and 18. Youth Court offers youth an opportunity to constructively assume responsibility for their actions as well as offers them a chance to learn about the justice system.

How are offenders referred ?

Once an offense is committed, the offender is apprehended and interviewed by local law enforcement, the Probation Department or school administration. The officer or referral source then decides if the case is appropriate for Youth Court. If it has been deemed appropriate, a referral form will be completed, including details about the incident, and provided to the Oswego County Youth Court program for processing.

Who benefits from the Youth Court Program?

  • Offenders benefit through being judged by their peers, not having to pay attorney fees or go to Family Court. Benefits also include a lack of permanent record upon successfully completing the program.

  • Youth Court members benefit by helping their communities, influencing their peers in a positive way, gaining better public speaking, interviewing and writing skills.  This provides practical experience in dealing with the judicial system and their peers, while gaining volunteer/community service hours.

  • Law Enforcement benefits by having another avenue to send youth who have committed first time minor offenses.

  • The entire community benefits by giving youth the chance to change their behaviors and give back to their communities through community service.

What is the Youth Court procedure?

  • Once a referral is received by the Oswego County Youth Court program, the coordinator contacts the family to set an appointment for the offender and his/her parent(s)/guardian(s) to meet with the coordinator to discuss the program and the court procedures.

  • Youth Court is a voluntary program. After all program and incident information has been reviewed and the offender admits to their responsibility and the parent(s) and offender agree to participate in the process, a court date is set.

  • The night of the hearing, the offender is assigned a defense attorney. They will talk with the offender to review and gather information to develop their statements to the judges.

  • Once the case has been presented to the judges by both the prosecution and defense, the judges have the following sentencing options:

  1. 0-50 hours of community service
  2. 0-70 suspended work hours
  3. Mandatory assessments
  4. Restitution
  5. Essays
  6. Letters of apology
  7. Projects
  8. Farnham
  9. Others as approved by coordinator
  • After a sentence has been given by the judges, the offender must complete the sentence by their closing date.

  • Failure  to complete sentences or refusal to comply with the program results in the case being sent back to the original referral source, where they have the option to see higher-level court involvement.    

Who can be a Youth Court member?

Youth Court members are students from area high schools who volunteer their time to provide a fair and equitable system in which juvenile crime may be handled.

  • Students in grades 7-12 are eligible to become members.

  • Each interested student fills out an application and is then notified of upcoming training sessions.

  • All trainees must complete a 20-hour training program in the areas of the NYS Penal Law judicial system. This will be coupled with learning the roles and responsibilities of the prosecuting attorney, defense attorney, court clerk and judge. Trainees must also pass a bar exam at the end of the 20-hour training course in order to become a youth court member.

  • Download an application

Questions about Youth Court?
E-mail the City Coordinator Kristen Slimmer or County Coordinator Tiffany Halstead
Oswego City-County Youth Bureau/Parks and Recreation

70 Bunner St.
Oswego, NY 13126