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Legal definition of a juvenile

Introduction

One of the most difficult areas of criminal justice policy lies in providing appropriate legal mechanisms to reflect the transition from the age of innocence through to maturity and full responsibility under the criminal law. Australian jurisdictions have recently arrived at a uniform minimum age for criminal responsibility of 10 years. Doli incapax, or the maximum age of presumption against criminal responsibility, is also uniform at under 14. The maximum age of treatment as a child for criminal responsibility varies somewhat - in most jurisdictions it is 17 years, except in Queensland where the maximum age is 16 years.

Age of criminal responsibility

Table 1: Ages of criminal responsibility by Australian jurisdiction (as at 12 July 2005)
JurisdictionNo criminal responsibilityPresumption against criminal responsibilityTreatment as child/juvenile
Commonwealth Under 10 years
Crimes Act 1914, s 4M
Criminal Code Act 1995, s 7.1
10 to less than 14 years
Crimes Act 1914, s 4N(1)
Criminal Code Act 1995, s 7.2
Not specified
Australian Capital Territory Under 10 years
Criminal Code 2002, s 25
10 to less than 14 years
Criminal Code 2002, s 26
Under 18 years
Children and Young People Act 1999, ss 8,69 ("young person")
New South Wales Under 10 years
Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987, s 5
10 to less than 14 years
Common law doli incapax
Under 18 years
Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987, s 3 ("child")
Northern Territory Under 10 years
Criminal Code Act, s 38(1)
10 to less than 14 years
Criminal Code Act, s 38(2)
Under 18 years
Youth Justice Act 2005, s 6 ("youth")
Queensland Under 10 years
Criminal Code Act 1899, s 29(1)
10 to less than 14 years
Criminal Code Act 1899, s 29(2)
Under 17 years
Juvenile Justice Act 1992, Sch 4 ("child")
South Australia Under 10 years
Young Offenders Act 1993, s 5
10 to less than 14 years
Common law doli incapax
Under 18 years
Young Offenders Act 1993, s 4 ("youth")
Tasmania Under 10 years
Criminal Code Act 1924, s 18(1)
10 to less than 14 years
Criminal Code Act 1924, s 18(2)
Under 18 years
Youth Justice Act 1997, s 3 ("youth")
Victoria Under 10 years
Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, s 344
10 to less than 14 years
Common law doli incapax
Under 18 years
Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, Sch 3 ("child")
Western Australia Under 10 years
Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913, s 29
10 to less than 14 years
Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913, s 29
Under 18 years
Young Offenders Act 1994, s3 ("young person")

References

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