ROCKVILLE, Md. -- The first teen court in the state of Maryland is celebrating 20 years of changing lives and giving teens second chances.
Teen court is used as a diversion program for first or second time juvenile offenders who have committed misdemeanor offenses including theft, vandalism and assault, among others.
Teens who are the respondents must admit guilt before appearing at a sentencing hearing conducted almost completely by their teenage peers.
High School students from all over Montgomery County volunteer to assume the roles of the bailiff, clerk and the jury, while a judge presides over the hearing as usual.
In the last 20 years, more than 5,000 cases have been settled in teen court.
Montgomery County teen court is the oldest in Maryland and has set the bar for 11 other teen courts around the state.