Defense of infancy

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 committed.

Under the English common law the defense of infancy was expressed as a set of presumptions in a doctrine known as doli incapax. A child under the age of seven was presumed incapable of committing a crime. The presumption was conclusive, prohibiting the prosecution from offering evidence that the child had the capacity to appreciate the nature and wrongfulness of what they had done. Children aged seven to under fourteen were presumed incapable of committing a crime but the presumption was rebuttable. The prosecution could overcome the presumption by proving that the child understood what they were doing and that it was wrong. In fact, capacity was a necessary element of the state's case. If the state failed to offer sufficient evidence of capacity, the infant was entitled to have the charges dismissed at the close of the state's evidence. Doli incapax was abolished in England and Wales in 1998,[1] but persists in other common law jurisdictions.


The terminology regarding such a defense varies by jurisdiction and sphere. Instances of usage have included the terms age of accountability,[2] age of responsibility,[3] age of criminal responsibility[4] and age of liability.[5] The rationale behind the age of accountability laws are the same as those behind the insanity defense, insinuating both the mentally disabled and the young lack apprehension.[6]

The age of criminal responsibility

Governments enact laws to label certain types of activity as wrongful or illegal. Behaviour 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 an alleged offender, 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 offense as 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.


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 behaviors 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.[7] Hence, no matter what the infant may have done, there cannot be a criminal prosecution. However, although no criminal liability is inferred, other aspects of law may be applied. For example, in Nordic countries, an offense by a person under 15 years of age is considered mostly a symptom of problems in child's development. This will cause the social authorities to take appropriate administrative measures to secure the development of the child. Such measures may range from counseling to placement at special care unit. Being non-judicial, the measures are not dependent on the severity of the offense committed but on the overall circumstances of the child.

The policy of treating minors as incapable of committing crimes does not necessarily reflect modern sensibilities. 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 criminal responsibility is currently eight years, however age of criminal prosecution was raised to 12 in 2010.[8] 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, and Norway all set the age at fifteen years. In the United States, the age varies between states, being as low as six years in South Carolina and seven years in 35 states; 11 years is the minimum age for federal crimes.

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 eighteen years.

Some countries 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 understand 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.

Ages of criminal responsibility by country

The following are the minimum ages at which people may be charged with a criminal offence in each country:

Country Age Ref Notes
 Afghanistan 7–12 [9] According to Articles 12 and 45 of the Juvenile Code, children aged 7–12 can be subject to warnings, supervision by social services, or confinement to a rehabilitation centre.
 Albania 14 [10] Article 1 of the Code distinguishes between offences and contraventions. Article 12 mandates that the latter (which are less serious) have a higher age limit of 16.
 Algeria 13 [11] Children aged 13–18 are subject to attenuated penalties.
 Andorra 12 [12]
 Angola 14 [13] Minimum and maximum sentences are reduced by two thirds between 14 and 16, and half between 16 and 18. The needs of rehabilitation and social reintegration are also to be taken into account for under 18s.
 Antigua and Barbuda 8 [14] According to Articles 1 and 3 of the Juvenile Act, Courts must have regard to the welfare of those under 16.
 Argentina 16 [15][16]
 Armenia 14 [17]
 Australia 10 [18] Age of criminal responsibility in Australia.
Rebuttable presumption of incapacity of committing crime: under 14.[18][19]
 Austria 14 [20]
 Azerbaijan 14 [21]
 Bangladesh 9 [22]
 Belgium 12 [23]
 Bolivia 14 [24][25] Lowered in July 2014 from 16 to 14.
 Brazil 12 [26][27][28][29] Juvenile judiciary system for offenders aged between 12 and 18, can be sentenced to a maximum of 3 years of imprisonment; separate juvenile jails. Full criminal responsibility from age 18.
 Canada 12 [30]
 Chile 16 [31][32]
 China 14 [22]
Absolute minimum for acts that constitute the following crimes: homicide, wounding resulting in death, rape, robbery, arson, explosion, planting of toxic substances and trafficking in dangerous drugs. The minimum age for other crimes are 16. In Hong Kong, the minimum age is 10[33] and in Macau, 16.
 Colombia 18 [28]
 Costa Rica 12 [34] Even though legal procedures and punishment are different for offenders who are under 18, all offenders who are 12 or older may be sentenced to as much as 15 years of incarceration.
 Croatia 14 [35] 14 for all crimes under the general provisions of the Criminal Code; special provisions may apply for some crimes up to the age 21.
 Cuba 16 [36]
 Czech Republic 15 [37]
 Denmark 15 [23]
 DR Congo 16 [38]
 Ecuador 18 [39]
 Egypt 12 [40]
 Estonia 14 [23]
 Ethiopia 9 [40]
 Finland 15 [41]
 France 13 [23]
 Georgia 14 [42] Section 33 of Criminal code of Georgia defines that minors aged between 14 and 18 can be charged with criminal responsibility by juvenile justice.
 Germany 14 [43] Minors between 14 and 18 years are sentenced by juvenile justice. An adult between 18 and 21 years may still be sentenced by juvenile justice if considered mentally immature.
 Hong Kong 10 [33]
 Hungary 12 [44] 12 only for premeditated homicide, voluntary manslaughter and bodily harm leading to death or resulting in life-threatening injuries; 14 for other crimes.[44]
 Iceland 15 [23]
 India 7 [22]
 Indonesia 8 [22]
 Iran 9 (girls); 15 (boys) [45][46]
 Ireland 12 [47] Exception for children aged 10 or 11, who can be charged with murder, manslaughter, rape or aggravated sexual assault.
 Israel 12 [22]
 Italy 14 [23] Juvenile judiciary system for offenders aged between 14 and 18; separate juvenile jails. Full criminal responsibility from age 18.
 Japan 14 [48]
 Kenya 8 [40]
 Malaysia 10 [49][50]

Malaysia has a dual system of secular and Islamic law, which has resulted in a number of different minimum ages of responsibility depending on which branch of the law is applicable.

  • Under the Penal Code, a person can be held criminally responsible from the age of 10. [Penal Code, Article 82. See also Child Act Article 2]
  • Under the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997, Muslim children can be held criminally responsible from the onset of puberty. [Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997, Articles 2 and 51]
  • Offences under the Internal Security Act can be prosecuted regardless of age. [Essential (Security Cases) Regulations 1975, Article 3]
 Mexico 12 [51] Incarceration starting at age 14. Other measures applied for ages 12-13.
 Morocco 12 [40]
 Myanmar 7 [22]
   Nepal 10 [22]
 Netherlands 12 [23]
 New Zealand 10 [52][53] Rebuttable presumption of incapacity until age 14. Children aged 10 and 11 can only be convicted of murder or manslaughter; children aged 12 and 13 can only be convicted of crimes with a maximum imprisonment of 14 years but this may be increased circumstantially. See Youth justice in New Zealand.
 Nigeria 7 [40]
 North Korea 14 [22]
 Norway 15 [54]
 Pakistan 7 [22]
 Paraguay 14 [55] Offenders between 14 and 17 can be sentenced to a maximum of 8 years of imprisonment.
 Peru 14–18 [28]
18 is the standard age of criminal liability in Peru. However, minors from 16–17 years old at the moment of the crime may be subject to 6 to 10 years in prison in case of homicide, feminicide, extortion, vandalism, rape or being member of a criminal gang. Minors from 14–15 years at the moment of a crime may be subject to 4 to 8 years in prison.
 Philippines 15 [56][57] On 23 January 2019, the House of Representatives approved on second reading a bill proposing to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 years to 12 years.[58]

A person who is fifteen years old or younger at the time of the offense shall be exempt from criminal liability. However, the minor shall be subjected to an intervention program.

A person who is older than fifteen but younger than eighteen years shall likewise be exempt from criminal liability and be subjected to an intervention program, unless he/she has acted with discernment.

Discernment means the mental capacity to understand the difference between right and wrong and its consequences.[59]
 Poland 15–18 [60]
17 is the standard age of criminal liability in Poland. Minors from the age of 15 can be tried as adults in relation to especially heinous crimes when "the circumstances of the case and the mental state of development of the perpetrator, his characteristics and personal situation warrant it, and especially when previously applied educational or corrective measures have proved ineffective." On the other hand, the Court may choose to apply juvenile measures for perpetrators above the age of 17 but below the age of 18, if "the circumstances of the case and the mental state of development of the perpetrator, his characteristics and personal situation warrant it." Juvenile correctional proceedings liability age is 13. Juvenile educational and therapeutic proceedings liability applies to all persons under the age of 18 (including persons below 13 years of age).[61]
 Portugal 16 [62]
 Romania 14 [23]
 Russia 14 [63]
16 by default, 14 years specifically for crimes as listed in Section 20 of the Criminal code, like murder, rape, robbery, extortion, kidnapping, motor vehicle theft, terror attack, stealing restricted substances like explosives or narcotics, aggravated anti-social behaviour, vandalism, false report of a terror attack.
 Singapore 7 [22] The Penal Code Review Committee is proposing to increase the age to 10.
 Slovenia 14 [23]
 South Africa 10 [40] The Child Justice Act 75 of 2008 came into effect 1 April 2010. There is a rebuttable presumption that a child between the ages of 10 and 14 lacks criminal capacity.
 South Korea 14 [22]
 Spain 14 [64]
 Sudan 7–15 [40] Children aged 7 to 15 can be held criminally responsible if they have reached puberty.[65]
 Sweden 15 [23]
  Switzerland 10 [23]
 Taiwan 14 Offenders aged 14 to 18 years qualify for reduction of sentence under section 18 of the Criminal Code. The death penalty and imprisonment without term cannot be applied to offenders aged 14 to 18 years.[66]
 Tanzania 7 [40]
 Thailand 7–14 [22]
 Turkey 12 [23]
 Uganda 12 [40]
 Ukraine 14 [23]
 United Kingdom 10 [67][68][69][70]
  • 10 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Usually persons aged 10–11 will only be imprisoned in very serious cases, such as murder. Even more so the outcome for youth (12–17) criminal proceedings are usually age categorised (currently it will depend on whether the offender is under 12, under 14, under 16 or under 18, with the older the offender the more severity of punishment, especially for serious crimes).
  • 8–12 in Scotland. If a compulsory intervention is considered necessary, a child aged between 8 and 12 years may be dealt with through the Children's Hearings system.
Currently, persons aged 10–17 are usually dealt with differently under UK law as "juveniles" and in most criminal cases, attend a Youth Court, as opposed to an adult Magistrate Court (for minor offences, such as petty shoplifting/theft, common assault, etc.) or Crown Court (for serious offences, such as murder, rape, robbery, etc.). By the current way UK law and courts work, it would be very rare that a person under 15 would get a custodial sentence for a minor offence, and it would be almost non existent for a person under 12 to get a custodial sentence for a minor offence, unless they are a "constant offender" and are regarded a danger to the public. In serious criminal cases such as murder, rape, etc. a person under 18 will be dealt with by the law and courts in the same way as a person 18 or over, most probably in a Crown Court.
 United States 0–11 [71][72] At the state level, 33 states set no minimum age of criminal responsibility.[71] For federal crimes, the minimum age of criminal responsibility is 11.[72]
 Uruguay 18 [73]
 Uzbekistan 13–16 [22] "Persons can be held criminally responsible for all offences committed after they have reached the age of 16, and for intentional killing from the age of 13, and for other specifically named offences from the age of 14. [Criminal Code, Article 17]"
 Vietnam 14 [22]

Child imprisonment

Child imprisonment is a concept in criminal law where people are considered not old enough to be held responsible for their criminal acts. The main problem in most countries is whether children should be punished as an adult for crimes committed as a juvenile, or if special treatment is a better solution for the offender.

Juvenile courts

In some countries, a juvenile court is a court of special jurisdiction charged with adjudicating cases involving crimes committed by those who have not yet reached a specific age. If convicted in a juvenile court, the offender is found "responsible" for their actions as opposed to "guilty" for a criminal offense. Sometimes, in some jurisdictions (such as the United States) a minor may be tried as an adult.

See also


  1. ^ Department, Law Lords. "House of Lords - R v JTB (Appellant) (on appeal from the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division))". Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  2. ^ Ranson, Stewart. "Public accountability in the age of neo‐liberal governance." J. Education Policy 18.5 (2003): 459-480.
  3. ^ Platt, Anthony, and Bernard L. Diamond. "The origins of the right and wrong test of criminal responsibility and its subsequent development in the United States: An historical survey." Cal. L. Rev. 54 (1966): 1227.
  4. ^ STATTIN, HEKAN, and David Magnusson. "Stability and change in criminal behaviour up to age 30." British Journal of Criminology 31.4 (1991): 327-346.
  5. ^ Ferreira, Nuno. "Putting the age of criminal and tort liability into context: A dialogue between law and psychology." The International Journal of Children's Rights 16.1 (2008): 29-54.
  6. ^ Roberts, Caton F., Stephen L. Golding, and Frank D. Fincham. "Implicit theories of criminal responsibility: Decision making and the insanity defense." Law and Human Behavior 11.3 (1987): 207.
  7. ^ Dalby JT. (1985). "Criminal liability in children". Canadian Journal of Criminology. 27: 137–145.
  8. ^ Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010, s 52; Easton S and Piper C (2012). Sentencing and Punishment: The Quest for Justice (3rd ed.) Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 256. ISBN 0-19-969353-6
  9. ^ "Afghanistan Juvenile Code, Article 10" (PDF). Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  10. ^ "Criminal Code of the Republic of Albania, Article 12" (PDF). Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  11. ^ "Algerian Penal Code, Article 49" (PDF). Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Criminal Code of Andorra, Article 2" (PDF). Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  13. ^ "Angola". Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  14. ^ "Juvenile Act, Article 8" (PDF). Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Debates Over Lowering the Criminal Responsibility Age". The Argentina Independent. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  16. ^ "Ley 22.278 Régimen Penal de la Minoridad Articles 1–2". Retrieved 2015-12-16.
  17. ^ "Criminal Code (2003) Article 24". Retrieved 2015-12-16.
  18. ^ a b "CRIMES ACT 1914 s 4M". Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  19. ^ "CRIMES ACT 1914 s 4N". Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  20. ^ "Jugendgerichtsgesetz (1988) §1(1–2) and 4". Retrieved 2015-12-16.
  21. ^ "Criminal Code of the Azerbaijan Republic (2000) Article 20 (1–2). [Note: unofficial translation.]". Retrieved 2015-12-16.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Minimum Ages of Criminal Responsibility in Asia | CRIN". Retrieved 2017-05-20.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Minimum Ages of Criminal Responsibility in Europe | CRIN". Retrieved 2017-05-20.
  24. ^ "Rige Ley donde se reduce la edad de imputabilidad de los menores". Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  25. ^ "Bolivia – Edad de responsabilidad penal ordinaria es desde los 18 años – JORNADA". Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  26. ^ Federal Constitution (in Portuguese), Article 228. Retrieved 02-01-2011.
  27. ^ Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente (pt), Seção V. Retrieved 02-05-2013
  28. ^ a b c "Progress of Nations 1997 Special Protections – Progress and Disparity". Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  29. ^ "Folha de S.Paulo". Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  30. ^ Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46, s. 13; may receive reduced sentencing under the Youth Criminal Justice Act until age 18.
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Ministro de Justicia descarta rebaja en edad de responsabilidad penal adolescente". Emol. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  33. ^ a b Section 3 of the Juvenile Offenders Ordinance 2003 (Chapter 226, Laws of Hong Kong)
  34. ^ "La mayoría de los países de América latina ya tiene un régimen penal juvenil". Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  35. ^ "Kazneni zakon". Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  36. ^ "Cuba - Factsheets -". Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  37. ^ "Klaus podpisem stvrdil trestní odpovědnost i legální sex od 15 let". 12 August 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
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  39. ^ "Adolescentes infractores, en la mira de Código Penal". El Telegrafo, telegrafo, diario, Ecuador, noticias, noticias de Ecuador, decano de la prensa nacional. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  40. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Minimum Ages of Criminal Responsibility in Africa | CRIN". Retrieved 2017-05-20.
  41. ^ Penal Code 3:1 § (39/1889, as changed by 515/2003). Retrieved 10-31-2007.
  42. ^ "Juvenile justice in Georgia". Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  43. ^ "Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch, StGB)". Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  44. ^ a b "Justice ministry rejects UNICEF criticism of new criminal code provisions on youthful offenders". Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  45. ^ "Iran Human Rights Documentation Center – Criminal Responsibility of Children in the Islamic Republic of Iran's New Penal Code". Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  46. ^ "Iran urged to increase age of criminal responsibility for children". 17 March 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  47. ^ "Children and the criminal justice system". Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  48. ^ Japanese Penal Code (Act No.45 of 1907), article 41 [1]
  49. ^ "UNICEF Malaysia – Child Protection – Justice for Children". UNICEF. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  50. ^ "Minimum Ages of Criminal Responsibility in Asia". CRIN. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  51. ^ "Decreto por el que se expide la Ley Nacional del Sistema Integral de Justicia Penal para Adolescentes (art. 5)". Diario Oficial de la Federación. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  52. ^ "Sections 21–22, Crimes Act 1961 No 43". Parliamentary Counsel Office (New Zealand). Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  53. ^ "Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989". Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  54. ^ Penal Code Almindelig borgerlig Straffelov (Straffeloven) § 46 (changed of law 12 Jun 1987 nr. 51). Retrieved 19/7 – 2007.
  55. ^
  56. ^ "RA9344: Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006". Chan Robles Law Library. April 28, 2006.
  57. ^ "PNoy signs law retaining minimum age of criminal liability". Yahoo News. October 8, 2013. External link in |publisher= (help)
  58. ^ Cepeda, Mara. "House changes proposed minimum criminal liability age from 9 to 12 years old". Rappler. Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  59. ^ "En Banc Supreme Court resolution on Proposed Rule on Juveniles in Conflict With the Law". Chan Robles Law Library. effective April 15, 2002. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  60. ^ "Article 10 of Polish Penal Code of 1997" (PDF).
  61. ^ "Przepisy ogólne". Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  62. ^ Ana Cristina Pereira. "Responsabilidade criminal deve passar dos 16 para os 18 anos de idade". PÚBLICO. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  63. ^ "СТ 20 УК РФ. Статья 20. Возраст, с которого наступает уголовная ответственность". Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  64. ^ Ley Orgánica 5/2000, de 12 de enero, reguladora de la responsabilidad penal de los menores (in Spanish)
  65. ^ Criminal Act. Sudan. 1991. pp. Sections 3 and 9.
  66. ^ Criminal Code of the Republic of China
  67. ^ The Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (23 & 24 Geo.5 c.12), section 50; as amended by The Children and Young Persons Act 1963 (c.37), section 16(1) [2]
  68. ^ "Age of criminal responsibility". Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  69. ^ "Report on the Draft Justice (NI) Bill of the Northern Ireland Assembly's official website". Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  70. ^ "Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010". Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  71. ^ a b "Minimum Ages of Criminal Responsibility in the Americas | CRIN". Retrieved 2017-05-20.
  72. ^ a b "The minimum age of criminal responsibility continues to divide opinion". The Economist. Retrieved 2017-05-20.
  73. ^ "Uruguayans reject constitutional reform on criminal responsibility". GlobalPost. 2014-10-27. Archived from the original on 2014-11-03. Retrieved 2018-02-11.


Further reading

  • Maher, Gerry. "Age and Criminal Responsibility. 2005 Vol 2. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law. 493 [3]
  • 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.
  1. ^ "Age by state 2017" (PDF).
Age of criminal responsibility in Australia

The age of criminal responsibility in Australia is the age below which a child is deemed incapable of having committed a criminal offence. In legal terms, it is referred to as a defence of infancy.

All States and self-governing Territories of Australia have adopted 10 years of age as a uniform age of criminal responsibility.

Doli incapax refers to a presumption that a child is "incapable of crime" under legislation or common law. Or rather, the presumption that a child cannot form mens rea as they do not yet have a sufficient understanding between "right and wrong". In the context of Australian law, doli incapax acts as a rebuttable presumption for children aged at least 10 but less than 14.To rebut this presumption, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the child knew that the act was seriously wrong (not by standards of law, but morally or according to the ordinary principles of reasonable persons) “as distinct from an act of mere naughtiness or childish mischief”.

Age of criminal responsibility in Europe

The age of criminal responsibility in Europe refers to the age below which an individual is considered to be unsuitable for being held accountable for their criminal offense as part of the defense of infancy. The most common age of criminal responsibility in Europe is 14.

Ages of consent in the United States

In the United States, age of consent laws regarding sexual activity are made at the state level. There are several federal statutes related to protecting minors from sexual predators, but laws regarding specific age requirements for sexual consent are left to individual states, District of Columbia, and territories. Depending on the jurisdiction, the legal age of consent ranges from age 16 to age 18. In some places, civil and criminal laws within the same state conflict with each other.

Brazilian Social Democracy Party

The Brazilian Social Democracy Party (Portuguese: Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira, PSDB), also known as the Brazilian Social Democratic Party or the Party of Brazilian Social Democracy, is a centrist political party in Brazil. As the third largest party in the National Congress, the PSDB was the main opposition party against the left-wing Workers' Party (PT) administrations of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff from 2003 to 2016.

Born together as part of the social democratic opposition to the military dictatorship from the late 1970s through the 1980s, the PSDB and the PT have since the mid-1990s been bitterest rivals in current Brazilian politics—both parties prohibit any kind of coalition or official cooperation with each other at any government levels. Its mascot is a blue and yellow colored toucan, with party members being called tucanos for this reason. Famous tucanos include Mário Covas, Geraldo Alckmin, Tasso Jereissati, Aécio Neves, former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Franco Montoro, Aloysio Nunes, Yeda Crusius, João Doria and José Serra.

Christian right

The Christian right or the religious right are conservative Christian political factions that are characterized by their strong support of socially conservative policies. Christian conservatives principally seek to apply their understanding of the teachings of Christianity to politics and to public policy by proclaiming the value of those teachings or by seeking to use those teachings to influence law and public policy.In the United States, the Christian right is an informal coalition formed around a core of conservative evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics. The Christian right draws additional support from politically conservative mainline Protestants, Jews, and Mormons. The movement has its roots in American politics going back as far as the 1940s and has been especially influential since the 1970s. Its influence draws, in part, from grassroots activism as well as from focus on social issues and from the ability to motivate the electorate around those issues.The Christian right is notable for advancing socially conservative positions on issues including school prayer, intelligent design, embryonic stem cell research, homosexuality, euthanasia, contraception, sex education, abortion, and pornography. Although the term Christian right is most commonly associated with politics in the United States, similar Christian conservative groups can be found in the political cultures of other Christian-majority nations.


In jurisprudence, an excuse is a defense to criminal charges that is distinct from an exculpation. Justification and excuse are different defenses in a criminal case (See Justification and excuse). Exculpation is a related concept which reduces or extinguishes a person's culpability and therefore a person's liability to pay compensation to the victim of a tort in the civil law.

The "excuse" provides a mitigating factor for a group of persons sharing a common characteristic. Justification, as in justifiable homicide, vindicates or shows the justice. Thus, society approves of the purpose or motives underpinning some actions or the consequences flowing from them (see Robinson), and distinguishes those where the behavior cannot be approved but some excuse may be found in the characteristics of the defendant, e.g. that the accused was a serving police officer or suffering from a mental illness. Thus, a justification describes the quality of the act, whereas an excuse relates to the status or capacity (or lack of it) in the accused. These factors can affect the resulting judgment which may be an acquittal, or in the case of a conviction may mitigate sentencing. An excuse may also be something that a person or persons use to explain any criticism or comments based on the outcome of any specific event.


Homicide is the act of one human killing another. A homicide requires only a volitional act by another person that results in death, and thus a homicide may result from accidental, reckless, or negligent acts even if there is no intent to cause harm. Homicides can be divided into many overlapping legal categories, including murder, manslaughter, justifiable homicide, killing in war (either following the laws of war or as a war crime), euthanasia, and capital punishment, depending on the circumstances of the death. These different types of homicides are often treated very differently in human societies; some are considered crimes, while others are permitted or even ordered by the legal system.

Index of law articles

This collection of lists of law topics collects the names of topics related to law. Everything related to law, even quite remotely, should be included on the alphabetical list, and on the appropriate topic lists. All links on topical lists should also appear in the main alphabetical listing. The process of creating lists is ongoing – these lists are neither complete nor up-to-date – if you see an article that should be listed but is not (or one that shouldn't be listed as legal but is), please update the lists accordingly. You may also want to include Wikiproject Law talk page banners on the relevant pages.

List of age restrictions

This article gives an outline of age restrictions.

Outline of children

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to children:

Children – biologically, a child (plural: children) is generally a human between the stages of birth and puberty. Some definitions include the unborn (termed fetus). The legal definition of "child" generally refers to a minor, otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority. "Child" may also describe a relationship with a parent or authority figure, or signify group membership in a clan, tribe, or religion; it can also signify being strongly affected by a specific time, place, or circumstance, as in "a child of nature" or "a child of the Sixties."


In the law of evidence, a presumption of a particular fact can be made without the aid of proof in some situations. The invocation of a presumption shifts the burden of proof from one party to the opposing party in a court trial.

There are two types of presumption: rebuttable presumption and conclusive presumption. A rebuttable presumption is assumed true until a person proves otherwise (for example the presumption of innocence). In contrast, a conclusive (or irrebuttable) presumption cannot be refuted in any case (such as defense of infancy in some legal systems).

Presumptions are sometimes categorized into two types: presumptions without basic facts, and presumptions with basic facts. In the United States, mandatory presumptions are impermissible in criminal cases, but permissible presumptions are allowed.

An example of presumption without basic facts is presumption of innocence.An example of presumption with basic facts is Declared death in absentia, e.g., the law says if a person has been missing for seven years or more (basic fact), that person is presumed dead.

R v Albert

Queen v Albert is an important case in South African criminal law, especially as it applies to the defence of superior orders. It was heard in the Supreme Court of the Cape of Good Hope on August 5, 1895. The case had been sent up for review by the Resident Magistrate of Somerset West, under Act 20 of 1856. It came before De Villiers CJ, as judge of the week.

De Villiers CJ held, and Upington J concurred that, a child under fourteen years of age who assists his father in committing a crime is presumed to do so in obedience to his father's orders, and is not punishable, even if he knew that he was doing a forbidden act—unless, in the case of a child above seven years of age, the crime was so heinous as obviously to absolve him from the duty of obedience.

Reasonable person

In law, a reasonable person, reasonable man, or the man on the Clapham omnibus is a hypothetical person of legal fiction crafted by the courts and communicated through case law and jury instructions.Strictly according to the fiction, it is misconceived for a party to seek evidence from actual people in order to establish how the reasonable man would have acted or what he would have foreseen. This person's character and care conduct under any common set of facts, is decided through reasoning of good practice or policy—or "learned" permitting there is a compelling consensus of public opinion—by high courts.In some practices, for circumstances arising from an uncommon set of facts, this person is seen to represent a composite of a relevant community's judgement as to how a typical member of said community should behave in situations that might pose a threat of harm (through action or inaction) to the public. However, cases resulting in judgment notwithstanding verdict, such as Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants, can be examples where a vetted jury's composite judgment were deemed outside that of the actual fictional reasonable person, and thus overruled.

The reasonable person belongs to a family of hypothetical figures in law including: the "right-thinking member of society," the "officious bystander," the "reasonable parent," the "reasonable landlord," the "fair-minded and informed observer," the "person having ordinary skill in the art" in patent law, and stretching back to Roman jurists, the figure of the bonus paterfamilias, all used to define legal standards. While there is a loose consensus in black letter law, there is no accepted technical definition. As with legal fiction in general, it is somewhat susceptible to ad hoc manipulation or transformation, and hence the "reasonable person" is an emergent concept of common law. The "reasonable person" is used as a tool to standardize, teach law students, or explain the law to a jury.As a legal fiction, the "reasonable person" is not an average person or a typical person, leading to great difficulties in applying the concept in some criminal cases, especially in regards to the partial defence of provocation. The standard also holds that each person owes a duty to behave as a reasonable person would under the same or similar circumstances. While the specific circumstances of each case will require varying kinds of conduct and degrees of care, the reasonable person standard undergoes no variation itself. The "reasonable person" construct can be found applied in many areas of the law. The standard performs a crucial role in determining negligence in both criminal law—that is, criminal negligence—and tort law.

The standard is also used in contract law, to determine contractual intent, or (when there is a duty of care) whether there has been a breach of the standard of care. The intent of a party can be determined by examining the understanding of a reasonable person, after consideration is given to all relevant circumstances of the case including the negotiations, any practices the parties have established between themselves, usages and any subsequent conduct of the parties.The standard does not exist independently of other circumstances within a case that could affect an individual's judgment.

Seven-deadly-sins law

The seven-deadly-sins law for juvenile offenders is a law intended to address the increasing rates of violent crime among youth. The law has taken many forms in different state legislatures in the United States, however the "seven deadly sins" aspect always refers to the jurisdiction of the superior court over the trial of any juvenile 13–17 years old who allegedly committed murder, rape, armed robbery with firearm, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, or voluntary manslaughter. In the mid 1990s, numerous US states enacted seven-deadly-sins laws to combat so-called teen "superpredators," a predicted wave of remorseless teenaged criminals. However, this prediction did not come to fruition.

Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice

The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, often referred to as the Beijing Rules, is a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly regarding the treatment of juvenile prisoners and offenders in member nations.

Young offender

A young offender is a young person who has been convicted or cautioned for a criminal offense. Criminal justice systems often deal with young offenders differently from adult offenders, but different countries apply the term 'young offender' to different age groups depending on the age of criminal responsibility in that country.


Youth is the time of life when one is young, and often means the time between childhood and adulthood (maturity). It is also defined as "the appearance, freshness, vigor, spirit, etc., characteristic of one who is young". Its definitions of a specific age range varies, as youth is not defined chronologically as a stage that can be tied to specific age ranges; nor can its end point be linked to specific activities, such as taking unpaid work or having sexual relations without consent.Youth is an experience that may shape an individual's level of dependency, which can be marked in various ways according to different cultural perspectives. Personal experience is marked by an individual's cultural norms or traditions, while a youth's level of dependency means the extent to which he still relies on his family emotionally and economically.

Youth rights

The youth rights movement (also known as youth liberation) seeks to grant the rights to young people that are traditionally reserved for adults, due to having reached a specific age or sufficient maturity. This is closely akin to the notion of evolving capacities within the children's rights movement, but the youth rights movement differs from the children's rights movement in that the latter places emphasis on the welfare and protection of children through the actions and decisions of adults, while the youth rights movement seeks to grant youth the liberty to make their own decisions autonomously in the ways adults are permitted to, or to lower the legal minimum ages at which such rights are acquired, such as the age of majority and the voting age.

Youth rights have increased over the last century in many countries. The youth rights movement seeks to further increase youth rights, with some advocating intergenerational equity.

Youth rights are one aspect of how youth are treated in society. Other aspects include how adults see and treat youth, and how open society is to youth participation.

Age of
Human rights
Freedom of movement
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