In all Australian legal jurisdictions, children under the age of ten are considered to be too young to have criminal intent. That means, that children under this age cannot be held legally responsible for their actions. Australia is the only region in the world to have uniform legal guidelines on the lower age limit of criminal responsibility. (Weijers, Grisso 2009 p.45). Having the presumption that children under the age of ten are unable to know the law completely, therefore not being able to have mens rea, is in my opinion, necessary in our criminal courts. This essay will look at the reasons for the necessary use of the minimum age of criminal responsibility, such as the Beijing rules, the convention on the rights of the child, the capacity of the child, and the harshness of the criminal law. Then this essay will discuss arguments against the minimum age of criminal responsibility, such as other continents view in the world on the minimum age, and looking at doli incapax being rebuttable from the age of ten to fourteen.
Reasons to keep the current minimum age of Criminal responsibility.
The Convention & the Beijing Rules
First of all, reasoning for not raising or getting ‘rid of’ the minimum age of criminal responsibility are that it is within the Convention on the rights of the child. Article 37 states that ‘children who break the law should not be treated cruelly. They should not be put in prison with adults and should be able to keep in contact with their family’. Even though the Convention on the Rights of the Child doesn’t state anything explicit about the minimum age of criminal responsibility, we can derive from this, that children under the law should not be treated cruelly, an...
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...nsibility in England and Wales’, Youth Justice, vol. 13, no. 2, 111-130.
- Keating, D. (1990): Adolescent thinking, in: S.S. Feldman and G.R. Elliott (eds.) At the threshold: The developing adolescent , Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 54-–89.
- Seymour, J. (1988) ‘Children and the Criminal law’ in Dealing with young offenders, 178.
- Steinberg, L. (2002), Adolescence (6 th edition) New York: McGraw Hill.
- Urbas, G. (2000) ‘The Age of Criminal Responsibility’, Australian institute of criminology, trends and issues in crime and criminal justice, no.181., viewed 20 March 2015, 1.
- Weijers, I & Grisso, T (2009), ‘Criminal responsibility of adolescents: Youth as junior citizenship’, in J Junger-Tas and F Dunker (eds.), Reforming Juvenile Justice, Springer-Verlag, New York, pp. 45-67.
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