Teen Court hopes to prevent repeat crime in the community

- It's a non-traditonal courtroom that is trying to make a difference in the Charlotte area. The first step in Mecklenburg County Teen Court is defendants must admit their guilt. The cases are non-violent offenses, but judges and attorney's are still involved, with a different twist.

Inside the courtroom, a young woman is on trial for cyber bullying, but it isn't your average courtroom. Teens make-up the attorney's on both sides.

"She knew the intention of this account was to hurt Amber," said Teen Attorney, Megan Snyder.

Saturday's case was a mock trial, but it's a real life scenario that could be heard in Mecklenburg County Teen Court

"I actually has one this past week at Teen Court and it's very interesting because it is a struggle of today," said Snyder.

Teen court hears cases from first time teenage offenders who face charges for non-violent crimes. Each case is heard in front of jurors and prosecutors that are similar in age. Sentences range from community service to apology letters. It's a punishment that is not often seen in ordinary courtrooms.

"You really see that are making a difference in peoples lives so it's a really rewarding experience when someone says thank you for giving them a second chance," said Snyder.

The difference is also seen within the community. Mecklenburg County Teen Court has only a 4% relapse rate of offenders committing another crime.

"Your peers are telling you, here is what you have done wrong and here is the level of punishment we think you deserve. I think it resonates with the kids," said Teen Court Judge, Brian Cromwell.

It also impacts teen attorneys like Megan Snyder, who plans to have a future career in law and one day return to the courtroom.

"I hope on the other side of the table, fighting for my defendant or against my defendant," said Snyder.

To prevent influence from adults, Saturday's mock trial is one of the only instances where family and friends are allowed to watch.

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