Children First

Students at Livingston High School were full of questions on this National Law Day. Designed to inform students about legal occupations and penalties, the speakers of the day covered many bases.

One of the most important areas addressed was about felony charges. Legal officials say if convicted of a felony, young people are no longer treated as juveniles but instead as adults with adult consequences.

For instance, a felony conviction not only hinders acceptance into some colleges, but it can also limit job choices. In fact, anyone convicted of a felony cannot become a lawyer, judge or even an engineer.

Often court officials say young people get in trouble by not actually committing the crime but instead by association.

"The gun's on the seat. The person says 'I'm going to knock off the 7/11,' and you go with them. The penalty will be the same even if you didn't go into the store," says Sumter County Youth Court Judge Tammy Montgomery.

"That scares me a lot," says seventeen-year-old Lashaundra Carter. "It scares me because they might have something on their mind and you might not know what's on their mind. Maybe when they start shooting you might be there."

"It makes me think more about my decisions and my conscious will come into place because of the consequences," says seventeen-year-old Will Thomas.

As part of the day, four students were recognized for writing winning essays on the legal system. Like these students, organizers say all young people should take the legal system seriously.

"It's time to make those decisions now that can have an affect on the rest of your life," says Judge Montgomery.