All too frequently young people make decisions that lead to criminal prosecution. That is why I created the #KNOWYOURRIGHTS campaign for teens.
My #KNOWYOURRIGHTS campaign is designed to educate our youth about their legal rights and the common causes for criminal prosecution in a court of law. My goal is to deter teens from committing crimes and to empower them to make positive life choices.
In my experience, there are 3 top misconceptions held by teens as it relates to criminal prosecution. They are:
(1) Your youth status protects you from criminal prosecution and jail.
Starting at age 13, a youth can be criminally prosecuted. Certain offenses can lead to incarceration in a youth detention center. Furthermore, a youth will automatically be prosecuted as an adult in the Superior Court for the following crimes:
- Voluntary Manslaughter
- Aggravated Sodomy
- Aggravated Child Molestation
- Aggravated Sexual Battery
- Armed Robbery with a Firearm
In the criminal justice system, you are considered an adult at age 17. This means if you are arrested and charged with a crime, you will be treated as an adult.
(2) Social media is the place to air your disputes with others.
Oftentimes, the first place law enforcement investigates criminal activity are social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Once something is uploaded onto these outlets, you may delete the content, but it is still retrievable.
Therefore, do not post pictures, messages, or videos you would not share with your parent or guardian, teacher, pastor, or your local law enforcement officer.
If you see a harmful picture, message, or video on social media, report it to your local law enforcement agency.
(3) Party to a Crime
A party to a crime means you caused someone to commit a crime or helped, advised, encouraged, aided, abetted, or hired another to commit a crime.
For example, you and a friend go to the mall. You see your friend conceal a piece of merchandise in their back pack. You look around to make sure no one saw your friend conceal that merchandise. Then, you two leave the store without paying for the merchandise.
Under Georgia law, taking merchandise from a store without paying is called Theft by Shoplifting. If caught, you and your friend can be charged. Even though you did not have stolen merchandise, by acting as lookout for your friend, you "aided, abetted, helped" your friend commit the crime. Consequently, you can be charged as a party to the crime.
I am passionate about our youth. If you are a representative with a school, church, or organization that would like me to present my #KNOWYOURRIGHTS Power Point presentation to your teens, contact my office at (706) 589 – 9530 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.