I like that the above answer focuses on the courtroom.
I was going to suggest that while Steve's story might not relate directly to your experience, it actually is not far from the experience of many American teenagers. It might surprise you to know just how many high school kids face Steve's predicament because of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is astounding. The same is true in circumstances of simply hanging out with the "wrong" people. Guilt by association is a sad fact of life for many teenagers.
I think the fact that it is written from Steve's point of view gives it relevance to real life as well. The few journal exerpts are emotional and honest. Despite the fact that the book is fiction - it is hard to deny that these emotions couldn't be real for someone.