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They Broke the Law—You Be the Judge
True Cases of Teen Crime
Thomas A. Jacobs, J.D. 
They Broke the Law—You Be the Judge
Teens often hear about other teens who get into trouble with the law. But they’re seldom asked what they think should happen next and why. A unique introduction to the juvenile justice system, They Broke the Law—You Be the Judge: True Cases of Teen Crime invites teens to preside over a variety of real-life cases.

They meet Adam, who makes a threat in school; Erica, who assaults another student and uses marijuana; and more young people who commit crimes and are caught. Like a judge, readers learn each teen’s background, the relevant facts, and the sentencing options available. After deciding on a sentence, they find out what really happened—and where each offender is today.

Along the way, readers learn Judge Jacobs’ concerns about each case, reflect on probing questions, and discover that they can’t jump to conclusions. Teens (and teachers) who want more can find role-playing ideas and scenarios related to the stories available as free downloads here on the Free Spirit Web site.

Thought-provoking and eye-opening, this book is for all teens who want to know more about the juvenile justice system and the laws that pertain to them and their peers.

View where you can purchase the eBook.


  Downloads from They Broke the Law—You Be the Judge

Table of Contents
“Adam, 15: a threat made in school” (sample chapter)

Free bonus: They Broke the Law Role Plays




Ask the Judge logo

Want more? Visit Judge Jacobs Web site,, for free interactive educational tools that provide current information regarding laws, court decisions, and national news affecting teens. It's the only site of its kind to provide legal questions and answers for teens and parents with the unique ability to interact with Judge Jacobs and other teens. 


Click the icon below to view all of the books in Free Spirit’s Teens and the Law Series

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224 pages, softcover, two-color, 6" x 9", ISBN 978-1-57542-134-6

F&P: High school/adult/Ages 12 & up/Z+
Learn more about book levels.

  • ALA/YALSA “Quick Picks for the Reluctant Young Adult Reader”, Winner
  • ALA/YALSA “Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults”, Selected
  • ForeWord Book of the Year Awards Finalist, ForeWord Magazine

“A refreshing and completely unique resource.”—Youthworker

“Unusual and thought-provoking . . . with the proliferation of courtroom shows on television, this book gives young people a more realistic look at the legal system designed for them.”—School Library Journal

“An excellent introduction of how juvenile justice works...great resource for classroom and group discussions.”—Booklist

“Very relevant...will strike a chord with adolescent readers.”—Children’s Literature

“Ideal for class discussion.... An excellent resource for mock trial preparation.”—Voice of Youth Advocates

In the Real World

Using They Broke the Law—You Be The Judge

In Sandy, Utah, school counselor Gayle Threet uses They Broke the Law—You Be The Judge in groups with gang members, potential gang members, students whose parents are incarcerated, and other kids at risk. She has them break down each part of a case, talk about the person's "thinking errors," consider what he or she could have done differently—and how life changes with court involvement. In Gayle's words, "So many possibilities for growth!"

How do you use Free Spirit books? Email us your story at

Item No: 21346W

Price: $15.99


Related materials:
Every Vote Matters
Thomas A. Jacobs, J.D., and Natalie C. Jacobs, J.D. 
Teen Cyberbullying Investigated
Thomas A. Jacobs, J.D. 
What Are My Rights?
Thomas A. Jacobs, J.D.