Atlantic City police recently received a call informing them that a large group of young males were about to fight near the intersection Baltic and New York avenues. Several units responded to the scene and ordered the young men to stop. Police say most of the youths obeyed their command but that two of the young men remained unruly and uncooperative.

One fled, while an officer was able to detain the other young man, who then allegedly became disorderly and tried to escape the officer’s control. At that point, the officer discovered a loaded handgun in the 17-year-old juvenile’s waistband and subsequently arrested him for a weapons crime and resisting arrest.

Although stories about kids who commit extremely serious offenses such as murder receive much more media coverage (and we’re not saying that possession of a loaded handgun isn’t serious) — the truth is that most juveniles become entangled in the legal system as the result of relatively minor offenses arising from routine teenage life circumstances like this one, rather than from any intentional or specific desire to commit crimes.

Unfortunately, misconceptions about New Jersey’s juvenile justice system lead many young offenders and their parents to make the mistake of assuming a juvenile charge isn’t serious enough to justify the cost of hiring a criminal defense lawyer. In most instances, however, juveniles and parents who take that approach do not discover just how serious or far into the future the consequences of a conviction for juvenile crime can extend until it is too late to reverse course.

If you have a son or daughter who has recently been arrested or charged as a juvenile, don’t make this mistake. Take the matter seriously and take time to speak with an experienced juvenile defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Source: Press of Atlantic City, “Atlantic City teen charged with weapons offense and resisting arrest,” June 7, 2012