Ignorance Is No Defense

Teenagers can’t wait to turn 18, believing that age officially makes them adults.  But under Georgia law they can be treated as an adult sooner than they or their parents may realize.  

 ”I learned that teenagers do not know our criminal laws or do not appreciate the consequences for breaking these laws,” says author, trial lawyer and former DeKalb county District Attorney J. Tom Morgan.  According to reviews, “Ignorance Is No Defense – A Teenager’s Guide to Georgia Law”  is considered “A must read for every Georgia teenager and parent,” breaking Georgia law down offense by offense in easy to understand language.

Morgan’s research found that 80% of Georgia students don’t know the exact age they are considered adults or about the “seven deadly sins”, which include: murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation, aggra vated sexual battery and armed robbery with a firearm.  If a person as young as 13 commits one of these crimes he/she will be charged as an adult, and ignorance of the law is no defense.  As learned from the Genarlow Wilson case, mutual consent doesn’t matter, either.  Georgia is one of only four states that observe this.

For example,  “Sexting”  is the latest trend among teens – and a criminal act they probably don’t realize they are committing.  ”Sexting” is when minors send one another nude photos and videos via cell phone.  ”If the person in the photograph is under the age of 18 it is child pornography,” says Morgan.  “Even if the person is taking a picture of himself or herself, the person possessing the photograph could be looking at a 20 year felony charge.”

You thoughts?  Morgan has spoken at 80 Georgia high schools on this topic and represented a few Clayton county teenagers as well - have you heard him speak or read his book?

25 comments Add your comment

Just a Young Guy riding the Bus

April 20th, 2009
10:17 am

Ignorance of the Law is no defense is so true. Thats why I choose not to break laws

Clayton Resident

April 20th, 2009
11:35 am

I have a hard time feeling sorry for these kids. Most of them know what they do is wrong and just don’t care because it’s cooler to do wrong then right. Sounds like this should be a required text in juvenille detention centers although it may already be too late by then or in middle schools so kids can get a heads up before they do something stupid.

and “sexting”? Are kids really doing this? Thank God my kids are grown and I don’t have to deal with that mess.

Peggy Sue Davis

April 20th, 2009
11:57 am

Good job young guy! I bet you are successful in life. You’re right – no one should have to tell you that brazen felonies are just plain WRONG!

Why is this even a topic? Oh yeah, some of our people just want any excuse to rail against society, the ’system’, racism, ‘da man’, the prison industrial complex, yada, yada, yada, LOL! Hmm, I’ve never spent any time in jail or with the judicial system. Now, why is that? Oh yeah, I lead a MORAL life and WORK for things I want/need! NO EXCUSES!

LOL! JTM needs to talk about being a good parent instead! It’s a PARENT’S JOB to instill a moral education in a child. Off and away to jail for those who commit heinous acts… NO EXCUSES!

Ignorance abounds

April 20th, 2009
5:59 pm

Speaking of ignorance, can you believe there are still people questioning whether or not SACS yanking accreditation was political? That there are still people who think that SACS is in it stricly “for the children” despite the fact that SACS has accredited every other system in their domain, now matter how much they completely and totally fail to educate the students in those systems.

Just how many people are that politically naive, that ignorant and uneducated when it comes to how “bidness” works in education?

I guess ignorance has its blessings; these people will be genuinely surprised, and overjoyed when the BOE “earns” accreditation back.

I guess they will be equally surprised when SACS accredits the Sun as being in the center of the solar system.

Mean, angry, hateful adults

April 20th, 2009
7:08 pm

I am glad that my children are grown because the environment for young people in Clayton County is very hostile. The parents, schools, churches and communities have failed our children miserably and continue everyday. I know people say oh it is happening everywhere, but here in Clayton County we have done a great job of destroying our students confidence and self-esteem. Just reading your blog Kim the anger and hatred comes out toward young people.

Melanie Lee

April 20th, 2009
8:41 pm

Hmm, young people need a $15 book to tell them that murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery and armed robbery with a firearm are all crimes (i.e. W-R-O-N-G)?



April 20th, 2009
11:20 pm

I think the book is a good idea. Too many kids think that they can commit heinous crimes and get off with a “slap on the wrist” because they’re a minor. They may be more likely to think twice about what they’re about to do if they know they can be sentenced just as an 18 year old can.

Real Is Real In GA

April 21st, 2009
5:48 pm

You mentioned Genarlow Wilson’s case, as in any case in Georgia. Georgia laws are made to imprison blacks; whites will never go to jail for these type crimes. Black kids will be the only folk jailed for sexting! Facts are facts, check the statistics. Just like it was absolutely unethical for Dr. Elgart to use his power and use Clayton County School System as a scapegoat to help pass his School Board Reform Bill; that failed. Whites will superimpose themselves upon all blacks, if the blacks are weak just like Clayton County’s Delegation that sold accreditation to Sonny for a nickel. Then all of them got busted out on TV for unethical tax delinquency. What Losers! They don’t know their free yet!

Media Play

April 21st, 2009
5:49 pm

OK, here comes those days of media silence before that glorious day of accreditation reinstatement! OK, Hooray, ahead of time!

Where is the AJC?

April 21st, 2009
8:05 pm

Where is the AJC when it comes to asking Mark Elgart why SACS has accredited every other school system in their domain, regardless of how poor its performance? Where is the AJC to ask how much SACS makes per year accrediting school systems, system that other than Clayton, get the SACS seal of approval no matter how dreadful their performance?

Where is the AJC when it comes to asking SACS, if they are so concerned about outside influences, why haven’t they commented on the sweetheart deal that allows a union head to earn years in the Teachers Retirement System without having to actually teach? Should a union figure head who doesn’t teach a single day be earning the same retirement as a teacher on the front lines each and every day?

The answer of course is they are nowhere to be found, because they are more interested in agenda than journalism. That’s why you already know the editorial board will praise the BOE for “earning” accreditation back, even when from the very beginning, any one with any willingness to look at the issue honestly and with any common sense would tell you accreditation will be restored.

But despite the fact that Clayton has been told from the beginning, there are still people out there who chose to be ignorant, and actually think the BOE won’t “earn” accreditation.

Given that they chose to be willfully ignorant, one can say they get the school system they deserve; and given that the AJC chooses to put aside real reporting for corporate cheerleading, one can say that the AJC is truly, truly, getting the drop in revenue they deserve.


April 22nd, 2009
8:11 am

real, sounds like you see white hoods around every corner

another point of view

April 22nd, 2009
9:07 am

Sounds like a lot of self-righteous proclamations from people who obviously never made mistakes and had children who were also perfect. Not many people realize that young adults can be labeled sex offenders for life, by required listing on a public registry, and spend grossly exaggerated sentences in jail for “crimes” like consensually talking on the internet with an almost 16 year old about sex — even if they never meet, never do anything about it. In many cases, the sentence is longer than it would be for assault. The young person’s life is ruined for their mistaken ignorance, regardless if they have lived a model life before, and life a model life after their crime. Is that what you are advocating? You cannot lump everyone who breaks the law into one large “stick them in jail and forget about them” category. The money would be much better spent on education.

Mean, angry, hateful adults

April 22nd, 2009
4:38 pm

Thank you and ditto to another point o f view.

Clandestine Neuroscientist

April 22nd, 2009
6:02 pm

Caveats before you’re beset with stimuli that will over produce dopamine about accreditation restoration. Remember these are the same individuals that produced your distress when they practiced anti-pluralistic tendencies with your children livelihoods, disrupted your children continuity with displaced friends, belittled community, lowered your property value, skyrocketed property taxes, took your school’s certification, pilfered over $23 million educational dollars, caused 300-400 teacher job losses.

All this in the name of white power, total intolerance and greed over the downtrodden darker folk! What did you as a county “Gain”? More Cost! Three more additional bills one for an overpaid parliamentarian, another for unconstitutional CCBOE Ethic Commission and now an overpriced law firm.

That’s three bills you didn’t have before! Aleika, “Fiscal Responsibility” Dictates that the County “rid itself” of this “Wasteful Spending”, look at it this way! No other 158 counties in Georgia have them, get it? Oh, I forget! You’re a “Puppet” I see that hand up your back! Let me talk to someone with “Brain connected to their spine. Hey, Jesse!


April 22nd, 2009
10:26 pm

Some people must be extremely careful! Did you know, you can be jailed in Georgia for (DWB) driving while black, which leads to unlawful search and seizure, its called racial profiling! Clayton County as in most urban counties in America fails itself. Schools that fail to educate Black children are the prevailing reality in Black, poor and working class neighborhoods, creating a pipeline to an exploding prison-jail industrial complex where the dominant complexion of the prisoners is black and brown. That these debilitating conditions persist for large numbers of Blacks in the 21st Century clearly indicates that the “colorline” of institutional/structural racism remains a roadblock to “freedom” particularly for black working class and poor people.


April 23rd, 2009
10:40 am

AMEN Optimistic!!!

Total Nonsense

April 24th, 2009
10:51 am

You’re right! “Ignorance Is No Defense, A Guide to Georgia Law” Ellipsis! I hope you students of the laws learned how crooks of Georgia Law took your accreditation to serve political purposes, in an effort to try to chance a community’s way of voting and choosing party affiliations. They didn’t care about your feeling or education. However, they’ll all be standing around next week patting themselves on the back for accreditation inrestatement. What Losers!

Fiscal Discipline & Sound Decison

April 24th, 2009
12:53 pm

Bare Bones Budget! Huh,CCBOE! Aleika, “Fiscal Responsibility” Dictates that the County “rid itself” of this “Wasteful Spending”, look at it this way! No other 158 counties in Georgia have this waste! Unload all that “Wasteful Spending” for an overpaid parliamentarian, another for unconstitutional CCBOE Ethic Commission and now an overpriced law firm. That MONEY that could be well spent on the Children, instead of white over inflated egoes! Come on, the “Public’s Watching”!!!!


April 25th, 2009
5:25 pm

It is very sad what our children are going through these days. There are more children been tossed to the corrupted system than ever!!! Who can we blame? Most of you all would say PARENTS! Yes, they have a responsibility. However, I think it would be SOCIETY! If you look on tv and everywhere else, you would see that society places a big part in shaping our children future. You can’t even see descent things on tv not even in the news. The news are worst than talk shows (GOSSIP). They never show anything positive!!! If a child breaks a law, we simply throw him in jail instead of getting that child some serious help. Those people who are prosecuting these children do not know the development stage of children and adolscents. You may have a 13 year who looked mature, but underneath all of that he may sit be mentally the age of a 6 years old. A six year old child will only mimic what they see on tv, in the news, in their neighborhood, what they hear, and etc (rather good or bad). Guess who are been labeled as criminals at that age? OUR YOUNG BLACK MALES!! They are the target especially in a predominant white neighborhoods because for some reason the fear all black men even young boys. They are the target!!! My son! Your son! This is sad! Take a look at the youth detention centers and prisons and see how many young males (Black/hispanic) are locked away for 20 years for simple crime. After while, there will be no black men. Therefore, the black race will become extinct. That is the way they want it to be? They look at a third grade test scores to determnine how many jails and detention centered need to be built (selfulling prophency) Who to blame? Yes, some on poor parenting, but most society. Parents are working two jobs just to keep food on the top. I think they want to do more, but inowadays paying the rent/mortgage ,keeping the lights on,and providing food on the table are the most important thing! We as a whole need to step back and ask ourselves what did we do different back in the days before chilren strated commiting such terrible crimes/killing themselves like now? Is it society? parenting? schools? policemen? judicial system? media (exposing crime of minor on tv)? What is it?

Melanie Lee

April 25th, 2009
7:20 pm

If one is not prepared to be a PARENT (a FULL-TIME JOB) one should NOT CHOOSE to have children. Until a child is 18-21 years of age, the PARENTS are RESPONSIBLE. No, it doesn’t take a village or society to raise the young, it takes TWO PARENTS committed to put their children first, in that they monitor, prepare, feed, clothe, educate, and manage their child/ren!

If one is not prepared to be fully engaged in their child’s life, until adulthood – DO NOT HAVE KIDS!!! EVERBODY HAS A CHOICE TO BE A PARENT OR NOT (unless one is a crime victim, taken advanged of, etc), so be smart and choose wisely. Parenting is not for the week, irreponsible, or uninvolved! It takes a strong MAN and WOMAN to be a PARENT! Choose wisely!


April 25th, 2009
8:47 pm

Blame whitey for everything, and you will remain poor and uneducated for the rest of your worthless lives.


April 26th, 2009
12:25 am


Ironically, even as an African American man holds the highest office in the country, African Americans remain twice as likely as whites to be unemployed, three times more likely to live in poverty and more than six times as likely to be incarcerated.

There are more Black men in prisons and jails in the United States (about 1.1 million) than there are incarcerated in the rest of the world combined. This criminalization process now starts in elementary schools with Black male children as young as six and seven years old being arrested in staggering numbers according to a 2005 report, Education on Lockdown by the Advancement Project.

In a strange and perverse way, the Black community, itself has started to wage a kind of war against young Black men and has become a part of this destructive process.

Sadly, the Black Church, the only institution in the black community where Black people truly lead, remains silent and some church leaders have unwittingly formed unhealthy alliances with those who seek to demonize and incarcerate our youth for profit.

The school to prison pipeline via the church and community is thriving and dooming many young black men to a life of incarceration. Voting rights, gainful employment and educational opportunities become overwhelming challenges after incarceration. As a result the black community suffers spiritually, economically and socially.

Research has shown that imprisonment the most severe sanction along the justice continuum (arrest, conviction and incarceration) is an expensive and ineffective strategy to address nonviolent drug offenders. A number of states have saved resources after developing alternative sentencing options.

Data also show that African American children, who are 16 percent of the youth population, experience a cumulative disadvantage as they permeate the criminal justice continuum.

• 28% of juvenile arrests
• 30% of referrals to juvenile court
• 37% of the detained population
• 34% of youth formally processed by the juvenile court
• 30% of adjudicated youth
• 35% of youth judicially waived to adult criminal court
• 38% of youth in residential placement
• 58% of youth admitted to stat adult prison

Short Term

1. Teach all Black boys to read at grade level by the third grade and to embrace education

2. Provide positive role models for Black boys

3. Create a stable home environment for Black boys that include contact with their fathers.

4. Ensure that Black boys have a strong spiritual base.

5. Control the negative media influences on Black boys.

6. Teach Black boys to respect all girls and women.

Long Term
1. Invest as much money in educating Black boys as in locking up Black men.

2. Help connect Black boys to a positive vision of themselves in the future.

3. Create high expectations and help Black boys live into those high influences.

4. Build a positive peer culture for Black boys.

5. Teach Black boys self-discipline, culture and history.

6. Teach Black boys and the communities in which they live to embrace education and lifelong learning.

7. Teach Black boys that going to jail or prison is not a rites of passage or band of honor.

Parental Involvement

The lack of parental involvement is the main reason the educational system is allowed to be in such disarray. The significance of neighborhood activism and parental involvement with the education of youths cannot be emphasized enough. Many parents say that they do not have time but whether they know it or not, they will pay for it one way or another.

Sources –
An NAACP White Paper – Year One: Toward Safe Communities, Good Schools and a Fair Chance for all Americans – 2009

National Urban League – The State of Black America: Message to the President 2009

The Black Star Project – America has lost a generation of Black boys: It is not that we lack solutions as much as it is that we lack the will to implement these solutions.

The Atlanta Voice – School To Prison Pipeline – April 10-16, 2009

Document compiled by Twenty Women Dialogue – April 18, 2009

Fiscal Responsibility

April 26th, 2009
12:24 pm

The $25 million in federal stimulus money “Over The Next Two Years”, U.S. Rep. David Scott announced for the Clayton’s School System will not cover the $23 million the School System will loss “Every Year”. These additional funds Scott announced would have been a great addition to existing funds had Elgart and Clayton’s Rich had not revoked accreditation. This still lets the district $21 million short over the “Two Year Period”. Wow! This surely was a costly white political power move for the ailing black district!


April 28th, 2009
8:44 pm

US Rep david Scott’s announcement was nothing but a black political power move. He is kept in power by uneducated blacks, whom he courts with health fairs, etc. He was named the most crooked politician in congress a couple years ago. Who would vote for a crook?

Ezra Drysdale

July 27th, 2010
11:00 am

@Mike I’m not quite sure I understand what your saying