When a child commits a serious crime, courts might prosecute him as an adult rather than a minor. In such cases, he can be found guilty of a designated felony, according to HealthyChildren.org, which means the crime will stay on his criminal record. Teens who are found guilty of a felony could spend time in jail and will likely need some help getting their lives back on track, and programs are available to help them.
Service and Treatment for Offender Prevention
In Florida, the S.T.O.P. program is meant to help juveniles who are repeat misdemeanor or third-degree felony offenders avoid going to jail. The program is not available for youths who commit grand theft auto, use a weapon or physically assault someone. The program requires teens to attend school or gain employment, attend counseling and complete community service. The juvenile is also required to attend a hearing 60 days after being placed in the program to view his progress, and 120 days after the initial hearing to ensure he has completed the program, according to the Sixth Judicial Circuit in Florida.
Juvenile Drug Court Program
In Washington, juveniles who have been charged with a crime, but have an alcohol or drug problem, are able to attend the state's juvenile drug court program. Under this program, the teen can avoid jail, but must report for regular drug tests, go through substance abuse treatment and attend school or find a job. This program helps teens avoid jail time for their felonies, while placing strict limits on their behaviors, according to the King County website. Teens who do not finish the program will have waived their right to a trial and will receive an automatic conviction.
Court Employment Project
The Court Employment Project allows teens between the ages of 16 and 19 to avoid incarceration when faced with felony charges. The program starts with education by helping with school placement, offering on-site GED services and providing college application assistance. This program also helps these individuals gain employment, provides substance abuse and mental health counseling and encourages participation in extracurricular activities, notes the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services. The purpose of this program is to give judges an alternative to jail time when sentencing a teen.
In New York, the Choices Alternative-to-Detention program is aimed at young people who are awaiting their court appearance. During this time, they can attend the program and, in some cases, avoid detention altogether. The program provides after-school activities, legal services and community supervision, which can help keep people stay out of the court system. The rearrest rate for those who enter this program is 34 percent lower than their predicted risk had they not entered the program, according to the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services.