Minor and Major Trouble
Duty/Concept AreaExamining the Foundations of a Legal System
ScenarioDevan, a 19-year-old, and his good friend, Jack, a 17-year-old, are sitting and talking in Devan’s car, parked in an empty municipal lot around midnight on a Thursday. A police officer on patrol happens upon the teens and decides to check their IDs, since an 11 p.m. curfew is in effect on school nights. When the officer peers into the car window to talk with the youths, he spots a partially consumed six-pack of beer. The 19-year-old is taken into custody. Another officer arrives on the scene to escort the 17-year-old home to his parents.
Big QuestionWhy did the police treat the 19-year-old differently from the 17-year-old?
- What laws apply to minors in this situation?
- What potential legal issues is the 19-year-old facing? If prosecuted, how would his trial be different from the trial of a 17-year-old?
- What rights do minors have under the U.S. Constitution?
- What rights do adults have under the U.S. Constitution?
- What is the age of majority in Virginia?
SOL CorrelationEnglish 10. 4, 11.4, 12.4
GOVT. 4, 5, 9
- Small-group project to develop an oral presentation summarizing the group’s discussion and responses to the questions
Age of Majority
Age of Majority: Preparing Your Child for Making Good Choices
Virginia Alcohol Laws and Parental Responsibility
Better to Have Loved and Lost…
Duty/Concept AreaExamining Contracts
ScenarioHigh school sweethearts Juan and Leeza, both 17, will be graduating in June. Madly in love, Juan decides to surprise Leeza with an engagement ring. He shops at the local jeweler and finds a ring that he knows Leeza will adore. His choice is quite expensive, so Juan enters into a contract with the jeweler to finance the ring. When Juan fills out the credit application, he tells a white lie that he is already 18, even though his birthday is not until August. He makes a down payment to secure the ring, but keeps it a secret until graduation. On graduation night, Leeza accepts the ring from Juan. Two weeks later, Leeza decides she’s not ready to commit to a long-term relationship with Juan but refuses to return the ring. Juan has just made his first payment on the ring and now wonders if he can get out of the contract.
Big QuestionDoes Juan have to continue making payments to the jeweler?
- Is the contract with the jeweler a valid contract? Why or why not?
- Can minors disaffirm contracts?
- Does the fact that Juan lied about his age affect his ability to get out of the contract?
- Does the jeweler have legal recourse?
- Is there a breach of contract? If not, why?
- Does Leeza have a legal right to the ring?
- Would this case be a candidate for the mediation process?
SOL CorrelationEnglish 10.4, 11.4, 12.4
- Role-play the parts of Juan, Leeza, and the jeweler
- Judge Judy-style mock trial
- Essay, with students answering focused questions
- Dear Abby-style exercise, with students writing advice column responses
Contract Law: Remedies for Breaking Contract
Disaffirming of Contracts by Minors
Some Basics on Contracts
Duty/Concept AreaExamining the Rights and Responsibilities of Consumers
James, an entrepreneurial 16-year-old high school junior, has discovered a market for his bootleg copies of current movies downloaded from an Internet site. Through word-of-mouth advertising at school, James has developed a market for his DVDs and is enjoying his newfound income. Sharon and Jeanette, business law students, observe James selling the DVDs to a group of freshmen and believe that he may be engaging in illegal activity. After much consideration, the future attorneys decide to disclose James’s activities to a school administrator. The police are called. James is questioned and his parents are notified.
Has James broken the law?
- What creations do copyright laws protect?
- Who can initiate legal action against James?
- What duties do Sharon and Jeanette have as responsible consumers?
- What ethical issues are involved in this situation?
- Could James’s parents be questioned? Could they be culpable for his actions?
- What punishment and penalties could James face?
- If this case goes to trial, what court would hear the case?
English: 10.4, 11.4, 12.4
GOVT. 9, 10
- An oral exercise: classroom debate with students assigned pro and con positions on James’s conduct
- Research project and report on copyright laws
- Written position paper—pro or con—on the case
ResourcesRecording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
Tools for Educators
Teens Less Likely to Download Illegally When They Know the Laws, Microsoft Survey Finds
Intellectual Property Development Site for Youth
Artists and Professionals Speak Out About Intellectual Property
Keep Quiet or Speak Up?
Duty/Concept AreaExploring Criminal Law
Tom, a part-time employee at the local electronics big-box store, has observed on several occasions the same silver SUV picking up expensive merchandise at the loading dock. Twice, the loading dock manager has instructed Tom to load merchandise into the SUV that is not listed on the invoice. Company policy is very specific about the need for employees to compare and verify quantities loaded against the customer’s invoice. On the third occasion, Tom decides he should ask the loading dock manager why the invoice doesn’t match the merchandise provided to the customer. The loading dock manager tells Tom that he’s being paid to load—not to ask questions. The next day, the general manager approaches Tom with questions about $1,500 in missing inventory. The manager reiterates the company policy that employees must match invoices with merchandise loaded.
Have any crimes been committed?
- Who has committed a crime?
- Could Tom be charged with a crime?
- If arrests were made and this case prosecuted, would it be considered a misdemeanor or a felony? Explain.
- What types of penalties could be associated with this crime?
- What ethical responsibilities does Tom have?
SOL CorrelationGOVT.1, 17, 18
- Written news report, detailing the events of Tom’s dilemma: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?
- Written risk-management policy and procedures for the store to prevent future merchandise losses
Find Law for the Public
Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School
A Ride Home
Exploring Tort Law
ScenarioKelly asks her friend, Kyle, for a ride home after a basketball game. On the way to Kelly’s house, Kyle is greatly exceeding the speed limit when his truck hits a patch of ice. Kyle loses control of the vehicle and slams into a tree. Another motorist calls 911, and the two friends are transported to the hospital. Kelly is admitted with serious injuries. Kyle is treated for a broken wrist and minor cuts and is released. Kelly has significant medical bills over the next several months, and her parents do not have health insurance for the family. Due to the nature of her injuries, Kelly’s college basketball scholarship is now in jeopardy.
Does Kelly have a cause of action against Kyle?
- Has a crime or a tort been committed? Explain.
- What type of insurance could cover Kelly’s medical bills?
- If Kelly has legal recourse, what is she entitled to collect? Who would pay?
- If a lawsuit should be filed, who would be the plaintiff and who would be the defendant?
- Can Kyle be tried twice in the legal system?
- What is double jeopardy?
- Would the legal situation change if Kelly did not have her seat belt fastened?
GOVT. 17, 18
- Role-play mediation process for this case
- Bulletin board display illustrating the case
Find Law for the Public: Accident and Injury Center
Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School
Tying the Knot Celebrity Style
Duty/Concept AreaIncreasing Awareness of Family/Domestic Law
Pick a celebrity you would like to marry. Choose well! Before you can set the date, you must first meet with your attorneys to draft the prenuptial agreement.
Why are prenuptial agreements used, and are they legally binding?
- What is a prenuptial agreement?
- What should be included in the agreement?
- What are you and your celebrity spouse trying to protect by drafting this agreement?
- Who will benefit most from the agreement—you or your celebrity spouse?
- What items are not necessary to include?
- What makes prenuptial agreements legally binding?
- Does a prenuptial agreement have to be witnessed or notarized?
- How is a prenuptial agreement enforced?
SOL CorrelationEnglish 10.4, 11.4, 12.4
- Written prenuptial agreement with detailed sections as specified by instructor
Uniform Premarital Agreement Act
Identifying Concepts in International Law
Select a country you’d like to visit for business or pleasure and research its business customs, cultural traditions, and country-specific information that incoming travelers should know.
What steps should you take to prepare for working or traveling outside the United States?
- What travel documents are needed to travel abroad?
- Why is it important to observe cultural etiquette practices?
- What security precautions should international travelers take?
- What health precautions should international travelers take?
- Where can you obtain information on the political climate of other countries and cities?
- How do you determine currency exchange rates?
- What steps can you take to reduce language barriers?
- Why is it important to know and heed a country's laws regulating alcohol, driving age, apparel/dress, and club admittance?
SOL CorrelationGOVT. 17
- Travel brochure created for the country of choice
- A list of FAQs and responses for selected country
- Written report on class guest speaker from another country
U.S. Department of State: Country-specific Information
U.S. Department of State: Passports
U.S. Department of State: Tips for Traveling Abroad
Work Etiquette: Considerations When Conducting Business Internationally