This brief guide for youth ages 13-18 who may be participants in a criminal court case explains the professional roles of people they observe or with whom they may interact in the criminal court proceedings.
The professionals profiled are the police officers who investigated the case being processed; the “victim advocate,” who helps the youth understand the case and its processing procedures, as well as address any of the youth’s concerns; the “defendant,” who was arrested by the police and is defending himself/herself against the charge; the judge, who manages the court procedures; the “jury,” which is composed of members of the community selected to consider the evidence presented and decide whether the defendant is guilty or innocent; the prosecutor, who is an attorney managing the presentation in court of the evidence the prosecutor believes proves the defendant’s guilt; the defense attorney, who manages the presentation of evidence that the defendant did not commit the charged crime; the “court officer,” who ensures the safety of those attending the court proceedings; the court reporter, who records what is said in the presentation of evidence; the “interpreter,” who translates court proceedings in the language of participants who do not understand English; probation officers, who manage persons convicted of a crime and sentenced to conditions of supervision in the community; parole officers; victims; and witnesses. Guidance is also provided on how persons unaccustomed to participation in court proceedings can prepare for their responsibility and cope with any stress that may arise. Rights are also outlined for persons involved in a case processed by a criminal court anywhere in the United States.
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