D.A. gives freshmen ‘tough love’

Published 7:09 pm Friday, October 14, 2011

District Attorney Joe Mulholland had some tough love for Bainbridge High School’s freshmen Wednesday morning, as he talked to them about some crimes commonly commited by younger people.

“If you don’t pay attention today, then don’t be surprised if you come to see me and eventually end up in prison,” Mulholland said.

Mulholland told the freshmen about a superspeeder law that recently went into effect in Georgia and punishes violators with higher fines and also the potential loss of their licenses. A superspeeder violation includes 75 mph or higher on two-lane roads, or 85 mph or higher anywhere in Georgia.

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“Your license could be suspended for a year and your insurance premiums will go up 100 percent,” he said. “You’ve waited your whole life to get to drive, don’t throw it all away with one stupid move.”

Mulholland asked the students if they had cell phones, and nearly the entire gymnasium raised their hands. He then told the freshmen that it is illegal to send lewd pictures of minors over the Internet, and warned them not to send such photos to each other.

“You might only mean to send that photo to your friend, but then they’ll send it to their friends, and then to their friends, and then all of a sudden it’s all over the Internet,” he said. “Don’t send any photos that you wouldn’t want posted publicly.”

He also told the students that sex with any person under the age of 16, in the state of Georgia, is classified as statutory rape, regardless of if the partner consented or not. He explained that anyone guilty of statutory rape not only serves jail time, but also must register as a sex offender.

At the end of his talk, Mulholland gave the group examples of seemingly-harmless crimes that are actually felonies in Georgia. They included “borrowing a neighbor’s four-wheeler for a joyride, even though you returned it” (considered a felony theft if the property is more than $500) and “snatching $20 from someone, even if they owe you the money” (the taking of any amount of money from another person is a felony).

“If you commit a felony, you can’t own a gun, you can’t get into college, you can’t vote,” he said. “What’s the bottom line? Don’t get a felony.”

Mulholland told the students that he did not mean for the assembly to be so heavy-handed, but he was serious about trying to keep them from making bad choices.

“I don’t want to see any of you in my office,” he said.