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Tooele County Youth Court

The Tooele County Youth Court program was reinstated in 2019. Tooele City is proud to be the sponsor of the Tooele County Youth Court.

Youth Court is a diversion program, which means that if a Youth commits an offense they can be referred to Youth Court for judgement rather than Juvenile Court. It has proven to be an effective tool in both bringing justice and giving the Youth a second chance to make up for their crime. If successful, the Youth will have no Juvenile Record. 

In Youth Court, all court proceedings are similar to that of a regular courtroom. However, one big difference is that Youth Court is run by other Youth under the supervision of adult advisors and a coordinator.  

There are approximately 42 volunteers in the Tooele County Youth Court, which is made up of one adult coordinator, two adult advisors, and 39 youth.   

Youth Court Photo
Watch the Tooele City Council's Introduction of the Tooele County Youth Court (Video)
About Us
Mission Statement
The Tooele County Youth Court Program is a community-based Intervention/Prevention Program designed to provide an alternative response for the juvenile justice system for first-time, nonviolent, misdemeanor juvenile offenders, in which community youth determine the appropriate sanctions for the offender. The program will hold youthful offenders accountable and provide educational services to offenders and youth volunteers in an effort to promote long-term behavioral change that leads to enhanced public safety and successful youth. 
Goals
The primary goal of the Tooele County Youth Court is to use positive peer pressure to ensure that young people who have committed minor offenses pay back the community and receive the help they need to avoid further involvement in the justice system. The Youth Court also seeks to provide a reliable and fair diversion option for the justice system agencies that refer cases to the program. 

We work to achieve this goal through the following: 

Service For Members: Our goal is to teach the value of civic duty through volunteering and service to our community. 
For Defendants: We ask defendants to repair the harm done to the community through service projects. We work closely with our partners to ensure that young people are exposed to the value of volunteering and the importance of voluntary service to one's community. 
Accountability Our goal is to teach defendants the importance of accepting their role in a situation and of being accountable to the community and themselves. 
Professionalism Our goal is to teach members job readiness skills such as interviewing skills, performance reviews, conduct at a workplace, and public speaking.
Leadership Our goal is to develop leadership skill in the young people we work with through training and on-going development efforts such as giving and receiving constructive feedback among peers. 
Meetings
The Tooele County Youth Court is held every Thursday from 5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. in the Tooele City Hall Council Chambers (90 North Main Street, Tooele). 
Social Media
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Court Details
Court Positions
The Youth Court requires participants to perform duties in a variety of positions within the court like: Head Judge, Prosecuting Attorney, Defense Attorney, Court Clerk, and Bailiff. They rotate through these positions regularly so everyone has the opportunity to perform a different function during court proceedings. 

Head Judge - Tooele Youth Court will operate a three-judge panel. All three judges will hear each case and deliberate the case, and the Head Judge will issue the disposition. The Judges and Attorney's will take all information into account and if needed, offer additional services to the family. Additional services include, but are not limited to, family counseling, family mediation, or mental health services. The Head Judge also issues the Oath of Confidentiality to all cases. 

Prosecuting Attorney - The Prosecuting Attorney presents the case to the court and presents the aggravating circumstances and suggests a possible sentence. 

Defense Attorney - The Defense Attorney interviews the defendant prior to court, explains what is going to happen, and answers any questions that the defendant or their parents might have. The Defense Attorney presents the court with the mitigating circumstances to the court and suggests possible sentences, and any reasons the defendant might need extra attention or help. The Defense Attorney also mentors the defendant throughout the entire Court experience until the case is dismissed following successful completion of their consequences. The Defense Attorney also ensures that the parents and defendant have completed all proper paperwork. The Defense Attorney will be instrumental in determining if the family needs additional services and will present these concerns to the Judges and Prosecuting Attorney during their confidential deliberations. 

Court Clerk - The Court Clerk is responsible for all the court paperwork during that night's cases. The Clerk provides the proper paperwork to the judges and the defendant. The Clerk keeps a record of the night's cases and files it accordingly. 

Bailiff - The Bailiff is responsible for signing in defendants and their parents as they arrive to the court and introduces them to their attorney. The Bailiff notifies the Judges when the nights cases have arrived and calls everyone into the courtroom for the Judges opening statements and then escorts evryone out. The Bailiff then escorts each case in one at a time. The Bailiff maintains order in the courtroom and ensures that the evenings proceedings run smoothly. 
Courtroom Protocol
Courtroom Protocol is what provides structure and order to courtroom proceedings. Here is an extremely simplified version of what happens in a session of youth court. 

  1. Youth Court Members arrive in court 30 minutes before defendants in order to review cases.
  2. The Court starts by addressing Returns - individuals who previously appeared in court. 
  3. New cases are then heard one at a time in order to maintain the defendants privacy.   
Oath of Confidentiality
Confidentiality is an integral part of Youth Court. As part of the Youth Court graduation ceremony, members are sworn in by a Juvenile Court Judge and given the Oath of Confidentiality. If a member does not keep their oath they will be expelled from the program. 

Oath of Confidentiality
I SOLEMNLY SWEAR THAT I WILL NOT DIVULGE, EITHER BY WORDS, ACTIONS, WRITTEN OR ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION OR SIGNS, ANY INFORMATION THAT COMES TO MY KNOWLEDGE IN THE COURSE OF A YOUTH COURT PROCEEEDING AND THAT I WILL KEEP CONFIDENTIAL ALL SAID PROCEEDINGS, WHICH MAY BE HELD IN MY PRESENCE. 

Join Youth Court
Coordinator
The Youth Court Coordinator coordinates and manages all aspects of Youth Court Operations including:

  • Supervises and manages youth participants and adult volunteers.
  • Recruits Youth Court members and ensures a full hearing calendar.
  • Facilitates training course for youth court members. 
  • Oversees intakes for defendants and families. 
  • Reports outcome and compliance to referral sources. 
  • Serves as a liaison with community partners. 
  • Generates and sustains community support for the youth court, such as making public presentations. 
  • Assists in planning and implementation of related youth program services.
  • Ensures Youth Court is in compliance with 78a-6-12 Utah Youth Court Act.
Adult Volunteer
The Adult Volunteers are there to support and help the Program Coordinator and Youth Court Members. They assist in many ways including:

  • Operation of the Youth Court.
  • Recruitment of participants for Youth Court training and membership.
  • Developing and coordinating community service projects and other programs for defendants.
  • Support for Youth Court members during trainings and hearings.
  • Planning of special events.
  • Record keeping for statistical purposes. 
If you have any questions, please contact Becky Bracken, Youth Court Coordinator, at bdbracken@msn.com or 435.241.0217.
Youth Volunteer
In order to Volunteer for the Tooele County Youth Court, you must fulfill the following qualifications:

  • You must live in Tooele County. 
  • You must be between the ages of 13 and 18. If the member turns 18 prior to graduation from High School, they are still eligible to participate. 
  • You must be a student in High School or Jr. High. Those who are homeschool are also eligible. 
  • We ask that you maintain at least a C average GPA. 
  • Be willing to maintain the necessary standards, ethics, and guidelines required in Youth Court. 
Members are required to follow established guidelines in order to participate in Youth Court including:

  • Successfully complete training course.
  • Be sworn in by Juvenile Court Judge.
  • Swear to and sign an Oath of Confidentiality.
  • Be aware of and follow court procedures.
  • Conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times.
  • Attend and participate in Court hearings regularly.
  • Be sensitive to each defendants' unique situations, and issue fair and just sentences.
  • Keep all information learned in the courtroom strictly confidential.
Any deviations from the above guidelines will result in a case by case review and possible removal from the program. 

Youth Volunteer Application Form (.pdf)
Referral Information
Types of Crimes
Youth Court hears cases of infractions and misdemeanors. They accept cases of Class B Misdemeanors or below, infractions, and other violations deemed appropriate by the Juvenile Court System. Also accepted are violations of school policies, including but not limited to, insubordination, truancy, fighting, vandalism, graffiti, and disorderly conduct.  
Referrers
The Tooele County Youth Court accepts referrals from the following sources:

  • Tooele City Police Department
  • Tooele County Sheriff's Department
  • Grantsville Police Department
  • Wendover Police Department
  • Tooele County Juvenile Court
  • Tooele County School District
  • Parents and Guardians
  • All County Law Enforcement Agencies
Parent Referral Form (.pdf)
Parent Referral Form_Fillable (.pdf)

School/Law Enforcement Referral Form (.pdf)
Utah State Code
78A-6-1201 Title.
This part is known as the "Utah Youth Court Diversion Act."

(Renumbered and Amended by Chapter 3, 2008 General Session)
78A-6-1202 Definitions.
(1) "Adult" means a person 18 years of age or older.

(2) "Gang activity" means any criminal activity that is conducted as part of an organized youth gang. It includes any criminal activity that is done in concert with other gang members, or done alone if it is to fulfill gang purposes. "Gang activity" does not include graffiti.

(3) "Minor offense" means any unlawful act that is a status offense or would be a class B or C misdemeanor, infraction, or violation of a municipal or county ordinance if the youth were an adult. "Minor offense" does not include:

(a) class A misdemeanors;

(b) felonies of any degree;

(c) any offenses that are committed as part of gang activity; 

(d) any of the following offenses which would carry mandatory dispositions if referred to the juvenile court under Section 78A-6-606:

(i) a second violation of Section 32B-4-409, Unlawful Purchase, Possession or Consumption by Minors -- Measurable Amounts in Body;

(ii) a violation of Section 41-6a-502, Driving Under the Influence;

(iii) a violation of Section 58-37-8, Controlled Substances Act;

(iv) a violation of Title 58, Chapter 37a, Utah Drug Paraphernalia Act;

(v) a violation of Title 58, Chapter 37b, Imitation Controlled Substances Act; or

(vi) a violation of Section 76-9-701, Intoxication; or

(e) any offense where a dangerous weapon, as defined in Subsection 76-1-601(5), is used in the
commission of the offense.

(4) "Sponsoring entity" means any political subdivision of the state, including a school or school district, juvenile court, law enforcement agency, prosecutor's office, county, city, or town.

(5) "Status offense" means a violation of the law that would not be a violation but for the age of the offender.

(6) "Youth" means a person under the age of 18 years or who is 18 but still attending high school.

(Amended by Chapter 276, 2010 General Session)
78A-6-1203 Youth court -- Authorization -- Referral.
(1) Youth court is a diversion program which provides an alternative disposition for cases involving juvenile offenders in which youth participants, under the supervision of an adult coordinator, may serve in various capacities within the courtroom, acting in the role of jurors, lawyers, bailiffs, clerks, and judges.

(a) Youth who appear before youth courts have been identified by law enforcement personnel, school officials, a prosecuting attorney, or the juvenile court as having committed acts which indicate a need for intervention to prevent further development toward juvenile delinquency but which appear to be acts that can be appropriately addressed outside the juvenile court process.

(b) Youth courts may only hear cases as provided for in this part.

(c) Youth court is a diversion program and not a court established under the Utah Constitution, Article VIII.

(2) A youth court may not accept referrals from law enforcement, schools, prosecuting attorneys, or
a juvenile court unless the youth court is certified by the Utah Youth Court Board.

(3) Any person may refer youth to a youth court for minor offenses. Once a referral is made, the case shall be screened by an adult coordinator to determine whether it qualifies as a youth court case.

(4) Youth courts have authority over youth:

(a) referred for a minor offense or offenses, or who are granted permission for referral under this part;

(b) who, along with a parent, guardian, or legal custodian, voluntarily and in writing, request  youth court involvement;

(c) who admit having committed the referred offense;

(d) who, along with a parent, guardian, or legal custodian, waive any privilege against self-incrimination and right to a speedy trial; and 

(e) who, along with their parent, guardian, or legal custodian, agree to follow the youth court
disposition of the case.

(5) Except with permission granted under Subsection (6), youth courts may not exercise authority over youth who are under the continuing jurisdiction of the juvenile court for law violations, including any youth who may have a matter pending which has not yet been adjudicated. Youth courts may, however, exercise authority over youth who are under the continuing jurisdiction of the juvenile court as set forth in this Subsection (5) if the offense before the youth court is not a law violation, and the referring agency has notified the juvenile court of the referral.

(6) Youth courts may exercise authority over youth described in Subsection (5), and over any other offense with the permission of the juvenile court and the prosecuting attorney in the county or district that would have jurisdiction if the matter were referred to juvenile court. 

(7) Permission of the juvenile court may be granted by a probation officer of the court in the district that would have jurisdiction over the offense being referred to youth court.

(8) Youth courts may decline to accept a youth for youth court disposition for any reason and may terminate a youth from youth court participation at any time.

(9) A youth or the youth's parent, guardian, or legal custodian may withdraw from the youth court process at any time. The youth court shall immediately notify the referring source of the withdrawal.

(10) The youth court may transfer a case back to the referring source for alternative handling at any time.

(11) Referral of a case to youth court may not prohibit the subsequent referral of the case to any court.

(12) Proceedings and dispositions of a youth court may only be shared with the referring agency, juvenile court, and victim.

(13) When a person does not complete the terms ordered by a youth court, and the case is referred to a juvenile court, the youth court shall provide the case file to the juvenile court.

(Amended by Chapter 27, 2013 General Session)
78A-6-1204 Parental involvement -- Victims -- Restitution.
(1) Every youth appearing before the youth court shall be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or legal custodian.

(2) Victims shall have the right to attend hearings and be heard.

(3) Any restitution due a victim of an offense shall be made in full prior to the time the case is completed by the youth court. Restitution shall be agreed upon between the youth and victim. 

(Renumbered and Amended by Chapter 3, 2008 General Session)
78A-6-1205 Dispositions.
(1) Youth court dispositional options include:

(a) compensatory service;

(b) participation in law-related educational classes, appropriate counseling, treatment, or  other educational programs;

(c) providing periodic reports to the youth court;

(d) participating in mentoring programs;

(e) participation by the youth as a member of a youth court;

(f) letters of apology;

(g) essays; and

(h) any other disposition considered appropriate by the youth court and adult coordinator.

(2) Youth courts may not impose a term of imprisonment or detention and may not impose fines.

(3) Youth court dispositions shall be completed within 180 days from the date of referral. 

(4) Youth court dispositions shall be reduced to writing and signed by the youth and a parent, guardian, or legal custodian indicating their acceptance of the disposition terms.

(5) Youth court shall notify the referring source if a participant fails to successfully complete the youth court disposition. The referring source may then take any action it considers appropriate.

(mended by Chapter 356, 2009 General Session)
78A-6-1206 Liability.
(1) A person or entity associated with the referral, evaluation, adjudication, disposition, or supervision of matters under this part may not be held civilly liable for any injury occurring to any person performing compensatory service or any other activity associated with a certified youth court unless the person causing the injury acted in a willful or wanton manner.

(2) Persons participating in a certified youth court shall be considered to be volunteers for purposes of Workers' Compensation and other risk-related issues.

(Amended by Chapter 356, 2009 General Session)
78A-6-1207 Fees.
(1) Youth courts may require that the youth pay a reasonable fee, not to exceed $50, to participate in youth court. This fee may be reduced or waived by the youth court in exigent circumstances. This fee shall be paid to and accounted for by the sponsoring entity. The fees collected shall be used for supplies and any training requirements.

(2) Youth court participants are responsible for the all expenses of any classes, counseling, treatment, or other educational programs that are the disposition of the youth court.
78A-6-1208 Youth Court Board -- Membership -- Responsibilities.
(1) The Utah attorney general's office shall provide staff support and assistance to a Youth Court Board comprised of the following:

(a) the Utah attorney general or the attorney general's designee;

(b) one prosecuting attorney appointed by the Utah Prosecution Council;

(c) one juvenile court judge appointed by the Board of Juvenile Court Judges;

(d) the juvenile court administrator or the administrator's designee;

(e) the executive director of the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice or the director's designee;

(f) the state superintendent of education or the state superintendent's designee;

(g) two representatives, appointed by the Youth Court Association, from youth courts based primarily in schools;

(h) two representatives, appointed by the Youth Court Association, from youth courts based primarily in communities;

(i) one member from the law enforcement community appointed by the Youth Court Board;

(j) one member from the community at large appointed by the Youth Court Board; and

(k) the president of the Utah Youth Court Association.

(2) The members selected to fill the positions in Subsections (1)(a) through (f) shall jointly select the members to fill the positions in Subsections (1)(g) through (j).

(3) Members shall serve two-year staggered terms beginning July 1, 2012, except the initial terms of the members designated by Subsections (1)(b), (c), (i), and (j) and one of the members from Subsections (1)(g) and (h) shall serve two-year terms, but may be reappointed for a full four year term upon the expiration of their initial term.

(4) The Youth Court Board shall meet at least quarterly to:

(a) set minimum standards for the establishment of youth courts, including an application process, membership and training requirements, and the qualifications for the adult coordinator;

(b) review certification applications; and 

(c) provide for a process to recertify each youth court every three years.

(5) In accordance with Title 63G, Chapter 3, Utah Administrative Rulemaking Act, the Youth Court Board shall make rules to accomplish the requirements of Subsection (3).

(6) The Youth Court Board may deny certification, recertification, or withdraw the certification of any youth court for failure to comply with program requirements.

(7) A member may not receive compensation or benefits for the member's service, but may receive per diem and travel expenses in accordance with:

(a) Section 63A-3-106;

(b) Section 63A-3-107; and

(c) rules made by the Division of Finance pursuant to Sections 63A-3-106 and 63A-3-107.

(8) The Youth Court Board shall provide a list of certified youth courts to the Board of Juvenile Court Judges, all law enforcement agencies in the state, all school districts, and the Utah Prosecution Council by October 1 of each year.

(Amended by Chapter 27, 2013 General Session)
78A-6-1209 Establishing a youth court -- Sponsoring entity responsibilities.
(1) Youth courts may be established by a sponsoring entity or by a private nonprofit entity which contracts with a sponsoring entity.

(2) The sponsoring entity shall:

(a) oversee the formation of the youth court;

(b) provide assistance with the application for certification from the Youth Court Board; and

(c) provide assistance for the training of youth court members.

(Renumbered and Amended by Chapter 3, 2008 General Session)
78A-6-1210 School credit.
Local school boards may provide school credit for participation as a member of a youth court.

(Renumbered and Amended by Chapter 123, 2008 General Session)
Frequently Asked Questions
Is this a real court?
Yes, we are certified by the State of Utah. 
Can guests attend Youth Court Cases?
Yes. Guests can observe the proceedings ONLY if both the defendant and their parents agree. If they do agree, the guest will be required to sign the Oath of Confidentiality. 

If the defendant or their parents do not agree, the guest will be asked to the leave the courtroom.
Do you issue fines?
No fines are issued in a Youth Court proceeding. Occasionally, there may be restitution. These cases will be decided upon with the assistance of the Youth Court Coordinator, the parents, and the victim. 
What kind of sentences do you give out?
It depends. Each case is different, but regardless of the situation, we are dedicated to providing fair and just sentences that reflect the seriousness of the offense. Possible sentencing options include but are not limited to the following: 

  • Written Essays
  • Written Letters of Apology
  • School Tracking for Truancy Mentor
  • Anger Control Classes
  • Counseling
  • Parenting Classes (For Parents)
  • Curfew Restrictions
  • Community Service
  • Education Workshops
  • Tobacco Education
  • Restitution
  • Homework Tracking
The Youth Court Judges are free to issue other sentences, depending on the offense. 
What kind of cases do you hear?
Class B Misdemeanors and below, unless the Juvenile Court approves a higher classification. 
What happens if a defendant does not fulfill their sentence?
This depends. Our first priority is to find out why. If warranted, we will provide them with more time to complete their sentence. If they simply refuse to do what they have been instructed to, their case is forwarded to the Juvenile Court and cannot be accepted back into the Youth Court. 
What kind of training do the Youth Court Members receive?
They are given a training manual that complies with the Utah State Youth Court Association requirements. It covers everything from courtroom procedures to how to treat and sentence defendants fairly. They must shadow other members to see exactly how the process works, and then they have to participate in a Mock Trial. The older members of the Youth Court become the defendants and the newer members are required to practice what they have learned. They complete the Mock Trial from beginning to end, all by themselves, with no "do overs" or questions. After the Mock Trial, there is a graduation ceremony where they take the Oath of Confidentiality and are sworn in by a Juvenile Court Judge.