GA Teenager Facing Suspension, Felony Charges Over Fishing Knife Stored in Tackle Box in Car

October 7 2013
by GSL Staff
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iStock_000017129805XSmallMore zero tolerance nonsense from our schools.

We’ve documented numerous stories from the last year in which students have been suspended, expelled and faced criminal charges for ridiculous infractions of zero tolerance policies and laws which allow for little or no interpretation by courts.

According to Evan Bernick at the Heritage Foundation,

…17-year-old Cody Chitwood, a student at Lassiter High School in Cobb County, Georgia, was charged with a felony for bringing weapons into a school zone.
The weapons? Fishing knives. They were in his truck. In a tackle box.

Georgia law states that any knife “having a blade of two or more inches” is a weapon, and that anyone who carries a weapon onto school property by that very act is guilty of a crime.

This is an example of a “strict liability” crime—one that does not require that an offender have a culpable mental state in order to be found guilty. Laws of this kind, which are distressingly common nowadays, break with the traditional understanding of criminal law as reserved for those who have done something, well, wrong and deserve punishment.

If convicted of the crime Chitwood could face between 2-10 years in prison, a fine of $10,000 and being labeled a felon for the rest of his life.

Even if he pleas to a lesser crime, or beats the charge in front a jury, this will likely carry thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees as well as the damage that has been done to his academic record.

Chitwood planned on pursuing a career in the Airforce following graduation, but the charges put his military career in jeopardy.

According to the Daily Caller,

Police were performing a random sweep, and drug-sniffing dogs detected black powder in Chitwood’s car. The powder was residue from a firecracker that had been in the car since Fourth of July, but it was enough to a warrant a full search that turned up the fishing-related weaponry.

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