The sight of teenagers inhabiting the country's shopping malls is a mainstay of suburban life. Many teens find the local malls to be places where they can legally congregate, see friends and socialize. But in East Baton Rouge recently, the Mall of Louisiana hosted an unruly group of teens who were arrested and charged with a crime. The Saturday night ruckus was so disruptive that authorities had to clear out the mall and close it for the evening.
Reports indicate that a large group of teens decided to get together at the mall for the purpose of taking a large group picture. As many as 200 teens were at the location. For reasons unknown, the photo did not materialize. Instead the teens got into several fights, the largest being in the food court with others sprinkled through the mall. Police arrested six teens between the ages of 13 to 15.
In an even more bizarre twist to the story, the teens appear to be planning a return engagement to the mall on an upcoming Saturday night to make another attempt at taking the group photo. This news rankled business owners, who are now taking measures to upgrade and increase their security. This includes adding extra security officers.
Names of the teens charged were not revealed, as is standard in Louisiana when juveniles are involved. An arrested juvenile must be convicted of the charged offense just as any other person charged with a crime. But parents of arrested juveniles will probably rest easier knowing that their child will most likely be prosecuted through the more flexible juvenile court system instead of being treated as an adult.
Although the juvenile court process is more informal and the punishment less ominous, juveniles do have a right to be represented by a criminal defense attorney. They must also be given certain constitutional protections. A family in Louisiana that has a minor charged with a crime can often turn a bad situation into a benefit by being directly involved in the process, using the resources available and providing a helpful but objective degree of parental support.
Source: kplctv.com, "Round 2 of Mall of La. disturbance has business owners beefing up security," Jan. 7, 2013