Senate Bill No. 236

(By Senators Wooton, Walker, White, Jackson, Buckalew, Hunter, Craigo, Prezioso, Macnaughtan, Oliverio, Schoonover, Ball, Dittmar, Bailey, Anderson, Snyder, Plymale, Bowman, Sharpe, Ross, Sprouse, McKenzie, Love and Kimble)


[Introduced January 28, 1998; referred to the Committee
on the Judiciary; and then to the Committee on Finance.]

A BILL to amend and reenact sections eleven-a and thirteen-d, article five, chapter forty-nine of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, all relating to the teen court program as an alternative proceeding for a juvenile accused of delinquency or a status offense.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That sections eleven-a and thirteen-d, article five, chapter forty-nine of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:

§49-5-11a. Status Offenders: Intervention and services by state
department; enforcement; detention; out-of-home placement; state department custody; least restrictive alternative.
(a) Services for status offenders provided by the department shall be consistent with the provisions of article five-b of this chapter and shall be designed to develop skills and supports within families and to resolve problems related to the juveniles or conflicts within their families. Services may include, but are not limited to, referral of juveniles and parents, guardians, or custodians and other family members to services for psychiatric or other medical care, or psychological, welfare, legal, educational, or other social services, or referral to the teen court program, as provided in section thirteen-d of this article, as appropriate to the needs of the juveniles and the family.
(b) If necessary, the department may petition the circuit court:
(1) For a valid court order, as defined in section four, article one of this chapter, to enforce compliance with a service plan or to restrain actions that interfere with or defeat a service plan; or
(2) For a valid court order to place a juvenile out-of-home in a nonsecure or staff-secure setting, and/or to place a juvenile in custody of the department.
(c) The court shall not be limited to the relief sought in the department's petition and shall make every effort to place juveniles in community based facilities which are the least restrictive alternatives appropriate to the needs of the juvenile and the community.
§49-5-13d. Teen court program.
(a) Any child juvenile who has is alleged to have committed a status offense or an act of delinquency which would not be a criminal offense would be a misdemeanor if committed by an adult, and who is otherwise subject to the provisions of this article shall may be given the option of choosing disposition proceeding in a teen court program as an alternative to petition under section seven of this article or proceeding to a disposition as provided by section eleven-a or section thirteen of this article, as the case may be. The decision to enter the teen court program as an alternative disposition procedure shall be made jointly by the circuit court, juvenile probation officer, the department and parent, guardian or custodian of the child. The circuit court shall find, prior to admission into the program, that the offender is a suitable candidate for the program. Any child who does not successfully cooperate in and complete the teen court program and any disposition imposed therein shall be returned to the circuit court for disposition further proceedings provided by section eleven-a or section thirteen of this article, as the case may be.
(b) The teen court program shall be administered by the governor's committee on crime and delinquency.
(c) The following provisions shall apply to all teen court programs:
(1) The judge for each teen court proceeding shall be an acting or retired circuit court judge or an active member of the West Virginia state bar, who shall serve on a voluntary basis. Bar members shall be offered continuing legal education credit for such service.
(2) Any child who selects the teen court program as an alternative disposition shall agree to serve thereafter on at least two occasions as a teen court juror.
(3) Volunteer students from grades ten seven through twelve of high schools within the county shall be selected to serve as defense attorney, prosecuting attorney, court clerk and bailiff for each proceeding.
(4) Disposition in a teen court proceeding shall consist of requiring the child to perform sixteen to forty hours of community service, the duration and type of which shall be determined by the teen court jury, from a standard list of available community service programs provided by the county juvenile probation system and a standard list of alternative consequences which are consistent with the purposes of this article. The performance of the child shall be monitored by the county juvenile probation system. The child shall also perform two sessions of teen court jury service, and, if deemed appropriate by the judge, the child shall participate in an education program. Nothing in this section may be construed so as to deny availability of the services provided under section eleven-a of this article to juveniles who are otherwise eligible therefor.
(d) The rules for administration, procedure and admission of evidence shall be determined by the chief circuit judge, but in no case may the court require a juvenile to admit the allegation against him or her as a prerequisite to participation in the teen court program. A copy of such rules shall be provided to every teen court participant.
(e) Teen court programs are pilot projects to be utilized from the effective date of this section until the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety-eight, in the circuit courts in three of the counties of this state. The supreme court of appeals is to determine the counties in which the pilot projects will be utilized based upon its determination of those counties which have recently experienced the most significant increases in the commission of criminal and status offenses by children.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to reauthorize teen court programs as an optional proceeding for juveniles accused of delinquency or status offenses.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.

This bill is recommended for passage in the 1998 session by the Joint Legislative Task Force on Juvenile Foster Care, Detention and Placement.