Deputies visit school to give lesson on law

Published Feb. 21, 2003|Updated Aug. 31, 2005

It is difficult to say which attention-getter captured its audience better: the Citrus County Sheriff's Office communication officer dressed in a colorful shirt and a dreadlock wig, or the loud music that accompanied the PowerPoint presentation.

No matter, the middle school students at Pope John Paul II Catholic School were focused.

The students were the recipients of the first Sheriff's Office presentation of "Street Smart," which Deputy Mike Geier and communications officer Aaron Broughton delivered.

The idea is to instruct students in four sessions; a fifth is expected to be added later. This first session emphasized rights, laws and criminal justice. Later the topics will be intent, circumstance and possession, misdemeanor crimes and felonies.

"I don't want to know you professionally," Geier told the students.

The program began with a review and explanation of the Bill of Rights. The students learned about freedoms, searches and seizures and the provision against double jeopardy _ that is, not being charged with the same crime twice.

Then Broughton talked about how things were in the fictional Caribbean country from which he pretended to come. He said in that country, soldiers could search homes, worshiping is done in secret, courts are unjust and "a lot of us live in fear.".

Geier described statutes and ordinances and violations of them. He defined misdemeanors _ trespassing, vandalism, retail theft _ and felonies such as murder, rape and robbery.

He explained the five components of the criminal justice system: law enforcement, prosecuting attorneys, the judiciary, defense attorneys and the penal system. Law enforcement agencies investigate crimes and write reports.

"We catch the bad guys," Geier said.

The prosecuting attorney represents the state, files charges and works with law enforcement. The judges and jurors are impartial and help determine guilt or innocence. The defense attorney works for the defendant, and the penal system keeps dangerous people out of society.

After the presentation, the students were allowed to ask questions. Traffic violations seemed to be of tremendous interest. One student wanted to know, "If one year you get a ticket and then the next year you get another ticket, can you be charged with that?"

He was referring to double jeopardy, and Geier explained that those were two different infractions.

Another student wanted to know why his dad got two tickets when he was stopped for speeding and running a red light.

"What if you got 100 tickets?" a student wanted to know.

"You'd be a habitual traffic offender," Geier said, and may lose your driver's license.

Another student deviated from the traffic issues and asked, "If they don't find anything in a search, do they send you a "sorry" card?


Schools interested in the Street Smart program can contact Lt. James Martone at the Citrus County Sheriff's Office at 726-4488.