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Encyclopedia > Defense of infancy
Criminal defenses
Part of the common law series
Defenses to crime
Actual innocence
Excuse and exculpation
Defenses that deny the act:
Alibi  · Mistaken identity
Frameup  · Falsified evidence
Automatism
Defenses that negate intent:
Infancy  · Entrapment
Insanity  · Mental disorder
M'Naghten Rules
Diminished responsibility
Mistake of law  · Mistake of fact
Intoxication
Defenses that justify the act:
Self defense  · Consent
Duress  · Necessity
Provocation
See also Criminal Law
Criminal Procedure
Other areas of the common law
Contract law  · Tort law  · Property law
Wills and trusts  · Evidence
Portals: Law  · Criminal justice

The defense of infancy is a form of defense known as an excuse so that defendants falling within the definition of an "infant" are excluded from criminal liability for their actions, if at the relevant time, they had not reached an age of criminal responsibility. After reaching the initial age, there may be levels of responsibility dictated by age and the type of offense allegedly committed. Image File history File links SmallLadyJustice. ... This article concerns the common-law legal system, as contrasted with the civil law legal system; for other meanings of the term, within the field of law, see common law (disambiguation). ... Actual innocence is the most widely used - yet often the least studied - defense to crime. ... In jurisprudence, an excuse or justification is a form of immunity which must be distinguished from an exculpation. ... Mistaken Identity may refer to albums: Mistaken Identity (Kim Carnes album) Mistaken Identity (Delta Goodrem album) This is a disambiguation page: a list of articles associated with the same title. ... A frameup refers to the act of framing someone, that is, providing false evidence in order to prove someone guilty of a crime. ... Falsified evidence, forged evidence or tainted evidence is used to either convict an innocent person, or to guarantee conviction of a guilty person. ... Automatism is a disassociative state where the individual suffering from it has no control over their actions. ... In jurisprudence, entrapment is a procedural defense by which a defendant may argue that they should not be held criminally liable for actions which broke the law, because they were induced (or entrapped) by the police to commit said acts. ... In a criminal trial, the insanity defenses are possible defenses by excuse, via which defendants may argue that they should not be held criminally liable for breaking the law, as they were mentally ill at the time of their allegedly criminal actions. ... In criminal law of commonwealth countries, the defense of mental disorder - sometimes called the defence of mental illness - is a legal defence by excuse, by which a defendant may argue that they should not be held criminally liable for breaking the law, as they were at the time of their... The MNaghten Rules are used to establish insanity as an excuse to potential criminal liability, but the definitional criteria establish insanity in the legal and not the psychological sense. ... In criminal law, diminished responsibility (or diminished capacity) is a potential defense by excuse by which defendants argue that although they broke the law, they should not be held criminally liable for doing so, as their mental functions were diminished or impaired. ... Mistake of law is a defense sometimes raised in criminal cases, although rarely with any success. ... Mistake of law and mistake of fact are two types of defense by excuse, via which a defendant may argue that they should not be held criminally liable for breaking the law or liable for damages under a civil law action. ... An intoxication defense, in criminal law, is a defense by excuse, via which a defendant argues that they should not be held criminally liable for actions which broke the law, because they were intoxicated. ... This article and defense of property deal with the legal concept of excused (sometimes termed justified) acts that might otherwise be illegal. ... Categories: | ... Duress (coercion) (as a term of jurisprudence) is a possible defense, via excuse, by which a defendant may argue that they should not be held criminally liable for actions which broke the law. ... In criminal law, necessity is a possible excuse for breaking the law. ... For the country-specific law, see provocation in English law. ... Criminal law (also known as penal law) is the body of common law that punishes criminals for committing offences against the state. ... Criminal procedure refers to the legal process for adjudicating claims that someone has violated the criminal law. ... A contract is any promise or set of promises made by one party to another for the breach of which the law provides a remedy. ... In the common law, a tort is a civil wrong for which the law provides a remedy. ... Property law is the area of law that governs the various forms of ownership in real property (land as distinct from personal or movable possessions) and in personal property, within the common law legal system. ... In the common law, a will or testament is a document by which a person (the testator) regulates the rights of others over his property or family after death. ... The law of trusts and estates is generally considered the body of law which governs the management of personal affairs and the disposition of property of an individual in anticipation and the event of such persons incapacity or death, also known as the law of successions in civil law. ... The law of evidence governs the use of testimony (e. ... In most litigation under the common law adversarial system the defendant, perhaps with the assistance of counsel, may allege or present defenses (or defences) in order to avoid liability, civil or criminal. ... In jurisprudence, an excuse or justification is a form of immunity which must be distinguished from an exculpation. ... A defendant or defender is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute. ... For other uses, see Crime (disambiguation). ... In the most general sense, a liability is anything that is a hindrance, or puts one at a disadvantage. ... An action, as philosophers use the term, is a certain kind of thing a person can do. ...

Contents


The age of criminal responsibility

Governments enact laws to label certain types of activity as wrongful or illegal. Behavior of a more antisocial nature can be stigmatized in a more positive way to show society's disapproval through the use of the word criminal. In this context, laws tend to use the phrase, "age of criminal responsibility" in two different ways:

  1. As a definition of the process for dealing with alleged offenders, the range of ages specifies the exemption of a child from the adult system of prosecution and punishment. Most states develop special juvenile justice systems in parallel to the adult criminal justice system. Here, the hearings are essentially welfare-based and deal with children as in need of compulsory measures of treatment and/or care. Children are diverted into this system when they have committed what would have been an offence in an adult.
  2. As the physical capacity of a child to commit a crime. Hence, children are deemed incapable of committing some sexual or other acts requiring abilities of a more mature quality.

Thus, each state is considering whether any given child has committed an offense, and given that answer, what the most appropriate measures would be for dealing with a child who has done what this child did. It is noted that, in some states, a link is made between infancy as a defense and defenses that diminish responsibility on the ground of a mental illness. Distinctions between children, young offenders, juveniles, etc. are used to denote matching levels of incapacity. The majority view is that this linkage is not constructive in that it implies that children are in some way mentally defective whereas they merely lack the judgment that comes with age and experience. A child (plural: children) is a young human,or an individual who has not yet reached puberty. ... The term adult describes any mature organism, but normally it refers to a human: one that is no longer a child / minor and is now either a man or a woman. ... Criminal law (also known as penal law) is the body of law that regulates governmental sanctions (such as imprisonment and/or fines) as retaliation for crimes against the social order. ... Punishment is the practice of imposing something unpleasant on a subject as a response to some unwanted behavior or disobedience that the subject has displayed. ... For the purposes of Public International Law and Private International Law, a state is a defined group of people, living within defined territorial boundaries and subject, more or less, to an autonomous legal system exercising jurisdiction through properly constituted courts. ... In law, a person who is not yet a legal adult is known as a minor (known in some places as an infant or juvenile). ... A child (plural: children) is a young human,or an individual who has not yet reached puberty. ...


Discussion

This is an aspect of the public policy of parens patriae. In the criminal law, each state will consider the nature of its own society and the available evidence of the age at which antisocial behavior begins to manifest itself. Some societies will have qualities of indulgence toward the young and inexperienced, and will not wish them to be exposed to the criminal law system before all other avenues of response have been exhausted. Hence, some states have a policy of doli incapax (i.e. incapable of wrong) and exclude liability for all acts and omissions that would otherwise have been criminal up to a specified age. Hence, no matter what the infant may have done, there cannot be a criminal prosecution. Public policy or ordre public is the body of fundamental principles that underpin the operation of legal systems in each state. ... Parens patriae is Latin for parent of the fatherland or parent of the homeland. ... Criminal law (also known as penal law) is the body of common law that punishes criminals for committing offences against the state. ... A conclusive presumption (also known as an irrebuttable presumption) in English law is an presumption of law that cannot that cannot be rebutted by evidence and must be taken to be the case whatever the evidence to the contrary. ... Criminal law (also known as penal law) is the body of law that regulates governmental sanctions (such as imprisonment and/or fines) as retaliation for crimes against the social order. ...


Such policies do not necessarily reflect modern sensibilities. On the one hand, the modern reality is that some very young children have a greater understanding of the world than the seven-year-old children of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when the initial decisions to excuse were made. Thus, if the rationale of the excuse is that children below a certain age lack the capacity to form the mens rea of an offense, this may no longer be a sustainable argument. Indeed, given the different speeds at which people may develop both physically and intellectually, any form of explicit age limit may be arbitrary and irrational. Yet, the sense that children do not deserve to be exposed to criminal punishment in the same way as adults remains strong. Children have not had experience of life, nor do they have the same mental and intellectual capacities as adults. Hence, it might be considered unfair to treat young children in the same way as adults.


In Scotland the age of responsibility is eight years, In England and Wales and Northern Ireland the age of responsibility is ten years and in the Netherlands and Canada, the age of responsibility is twelve years. Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway all set the age at fifteen years. In most of the US states, the age is either sixteen or eighteen years. In Belgium, it is eighteen years. As the treaty parties of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court could not agree on a minimum age for criminal responsibility, they chose to solve the question procedurally and excluded the jurisdiction of the Court for persons under 18 years. Motto: Nemo me impune lacessit (English: No one provokes me with impunity) Scotlands location within Europe Scotlands location within the United Kingdom Languages English, Gaelic, Scots Capital Edinburgh Largest city Glasgow First Minister Jack McConnell Area - Total - % water Ranked 2nd UK 78,782 km² 1. ... Dieu et mon droit (motto) (French for God and my right)2 Northern Irelands location within the UK Official Languages English, Irish, Ulster Scots Capital and largest city Belfast First Minister Office suspended Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Peter Hain MP Area  - Total Ranked 4th UK 13,843... A U.S. state is any one of the 50 states which have membership of the federation known as the United States of America (USA or U.S.). The separate state governments and the U.S. federal government share sovereignty. ... The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (or Rome Statute) is the treaty which established the International Criminal Court (ICC). ... Official logo of the ICC. The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established in 2002 as a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, as defined by several international agreements, most prominently the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. ...


Some states refuse to set a fixed minimum age, but leave discretion to prosecutors to argue or the judges to rule on whether the child or adolescent ("juvenile") defendant understood that what was being done was wrong. If the defendant did not undertand the difference between right and wrong, it may not be considered appropriate to treat such a person as culpable. Alternatively, the lack of real fault in the offender can be recognized by rulings that dispense mitigated criminal sentences or address more practical matters of parental responsibility by adjusting the rights of parents to unsupervised custody, or by separate criminal proceedings against the parents for breach of their duties as parents. The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ... A judge or justice is an official who presides over a court. ... A child (plural: children) is a young human,or an individual who has not yet reached puberty. ... A separate article is about the punk band called The Adolescents. ... Culpability descends from the Latin concept of fault (culpa), which is still found today in the phrase mea culpa (literally, my fault). The concept of culpability is intimately tied up with notions of agency, freedom and free will. ... In law, a sentence forms the final act of a judge-ruled process, and also the symbolic principal act connected to his function. ... In the states of the European Union and elsewhere, parental responsibility refers to the rights and privilieges which underpin the relationship between a child and either its parents or those adults who have a significant role in its life. ... Parenting comprises all the tasks involved in raising a child to an independent adult. ... In Canada and the United States, the term parental responsibility refers to the potential or actual liability that may be incurred by parents for the behaviour of their children. ...


Ages of criminal responsibility by country

The following are the minimum ages at which children are subject to penal law in countries with 10 million or more children under 18 years old.

Country Age
Mexico 6-12*
Bangladesh 7
India 7
Myanmar 7
Nigeria 7
Pakistan 7
South Africa 7
Sudan 7
Tanzania 7
Thailand 7
United States 7**
Country Age
Indonesia 8
Kenya 8
UK (Scotland) 8
Ethiopia 9
Iran 9***
Philippines 9
Nepal 10
UK (England) 10
UK (Wales) 10
Ukraine 10
Country Age
Turkey 11
Korea, Rep. 12
Morocco 12
Uganda 12
Algeria 13
France 13
Poland 13
Uzbekistan 13
China 14
Germany 14
Country Age
Italy 14
Japan 14
Russia 14
Vietnam 14
Egypt 15
Argentina 16
Brazil 18****
Colombia 18****
Peru 18****
DR Congo -
*Most states 11 or 12 years; age 11 for federal crimes.
**Age determined by state; minimum age is 7 in most states under common law.
***Age 9 for girls, 15 for boys.
****Official age of criminal responsibility; from age 12, children's actions are subject to juvenile legal proceedings.

Motto: Nemo me impune lacessit (English: No one provokes me with impunity) Scotlands location within Europe Scotlands location within the United Kingdom Languages English, Gaelic, Scots Capital Edinburgh Largest city Glasgow First Minister Jack McConnell Area - Total - % water Ranked 2nd UK 78,782 km² 1. ... Royal motto (French): Dieu et mon droit (Translated: God and my right) Englands location (dark green) within the United Kingdom (light green), with the Republic of Ireland (blue) to its west Languages English Capital London Largest city London Area – Total Ranked 1st UK 130,395 km² Population –mid-2004... For an explanation of often confusing terms such as Great Britain, Britain, United Kingdom, England and Wales and England, see British Isles (terminology). ... Motto: 널리 인간 세계를 이롭게 하라 (Broadly bring benefit to humanity, 弘益人間) Anthem: Aegukga Capital Seoul Largest city Seoul Official language(s) Korean Government Presidential democracy  - President Roh Moo-hyun  - Prime Minister Han Myung-sook Establishment    - Gojoseon 2333 BC   - Declaration of Republic March 1, 1919   - Liberation August 15, 1945   - First Republic August 15, 1948  Area    - Total...

References

  • Maher, Gerry. "Age and Criminal Responsibility. 2005 Vol 2. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law. 493 [1]
  • CRC Country Reports (1992-1996); Juvenile Justice and Juvenile Delinquency in Central and Eastern Europe, 1995; United Nations, Implementation of UN Mandates on Juvenile Justice in ESCAP, 1994; Geert Cappelaere, Children's Rights Centre, University of Gent, Belgium.

http://www.unicef.org/pon97/p56a.htm


 
 

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