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The age of criminal responsibility

Crime facts info no. 106

ISSN 1445-7288
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, September 2005

Since the publication of The age of criminal responsibility (Urbas 2000), some jurisdictions have revised their legislation, confirming a trend over the last 20 years to uniformity in age limits for criminal responsibility. In the Australian Capital Territory, the Criminal Code 2002 Div 2.3.1 now deals with the criminal responsibility of children. From 1 July 2005 in Victoria, the age jurisdiction of the criminal division of the Children's Court has increased from 17 to 18 years. In Queensland, for the purposes of the Juvenile Justice Act 1992 a child is a person who has not turned 17 years.

Doli incapax means a presumption that a child is "incapable of crime" under legislation or common law. Recent Australian reviews (Bradley 2003 and Crofts 2003) have discussed amending the doli incapax presumption, including reversing the onus of proof and changing its application to ages twelve and under.

Ages of criminal responsibility in Australian jurisdictions
Jurisdiction Cannot be charged with a criminal offence Doliincapax Maximum age for appearance in child, juvenile or youth court
Commonwealth Under 101(a) 10 to under 141(b) n/a
Australian Capital Territory Under 102(a) 10 to under 142(b) Under 182(c)
New South Wales Under 103(a) 10 to under 143(b) Under 183(c)
Northern Territory Under 104(a) 10 to under 144(b) Under 184(c)
Queensland Under 105(a) 10 to under 145(b) Under 175(c)
South Australia Under 106(a) 10 to under 146(b) Under 186(c)
Tasmania Under 107(a) 10 to under 147(b) Under 187(c)
Victoria Under 108(a) 10 to under 148(b) Under 188(c)
Western Australia Under 109(a) 10 to under 149(b) Under 189(c)
Not applicable: Dealt with in accordance with state/territory laws

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