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The Criminnal Responsibilty of Children

Crofts, T. (2008) The Criminnal Responsibilty of Children. In: Monahan, G. and Young, L., (eds.) Children and the law in Australia. LexisNexis Butterworths, Chatswood, N.S.W., pp. 167-185.


The age of criminal responsibility acts as a gate-keeping mechanism to the criminal justice system. It is the age at which society deems that its children are old enough to be held responsible for criminal acts and no longer in need of sheltering from the criminal law consequences of their behaviour. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child asks contracting states to establish a minimum age 'below which children shall be presumed not to have the capacity to infringe penal law'. In all Australian criminal jurisdictions, protection of children from the criminal justice system takes the form of two age barriers. First, a lower one under which a child is conclusively presumed too young to ever be capable of guilt (currently under the age of 10) and a higher one where the presumption of criminal incapacity (sometimes termed the presumption of doli incapax) is conditional and, therefore, rebuttable. This rebuttable presumption applies from the age of l0 to 14.

Publication Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Law
Publisher: LexisNexis Butterworths
Copyright: LexisNexis Butterworths
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