The Practical Application Of The Age Of Criminal Responsibilities

1509 words - 7 pages

The Practical Application of the Age of Criminal Responsibilities
It is crucial to understand the purpose and the consequences of having the minimum age of criminal responsibilities set at a young age. There have been many studies completed that give appreciation to the rights of children and give an understanding of their specific capabilities. Being informed about children’s culpability, their competence to participate in the criminal justice system (CJS) and the consequences of criminalising them at a young age are crucial areas that need to be looked at in detail when thinking of setting with a minimum age of criminal responsibilities (Farmer, 2011). Adolescents are around the age of ...view middle of the document...

Adolescence is a crucial period for the maturation of the prefrontal cortex and is fully developed around the age of 18. At this age, there is a greater reactivity of the socioemotional systems of the brain and there is an increase of dopamine in association with an increase in sensitivity to reward (Farmer, 2011). This basically illustrates that there is a risk of partaking in delinquent behaviour during the early to mid-adolescent period which leads to an increase of impulsivity (Farmer, 2011).It is important to know the fact that children are often vulnerable at the age of 10-14 to peer influence.
In terms of criminal law, Farmer (2011) states that individuals are clearly examined whether, at the time of the crime, if they are fully culpable for their behaviour and if their thinking was significantly impaired at the time of the crime (e.g. the diminished responsibility defence). As already stated, this supports the idea that children and young adolescents are vulnerable because their moral decision making is impaired in the executive functioning (EF), future orientation and social cognition (Farmer, 2011). This does not help with the fact that young adolescence have an increased sense of reward who value peer acceptance, which creates an environment for delinquent acts (Farmer, 2011).
Competence
It is crucial to understand how competent individuals are when convicted of a crime for an effective trial (Farmer, 2011). They must have a good understanding of court processes, know the charges against them, and know what their defences are and their possible consequences (Farmer, 2011). It is important for young people to understand the purpose of interviews and understanding the questions and significance of answers given in these interviews (Farmer, 2011).
Farmer (2011), states that competency becomes threatened by suggestibility and compliance, which are characteristics that are connected with youth. Suggestibility refers to the tendency to change one’s mind due to pressure or suggestions from others and compliance deals with going along with another individual’s proposition, even if it is something that you do not agree with (Farmer, 2011). There are numerous studies that support the idea that compliance is influenced by age. Studies have shown that over 75% of children aged 11-13 decided to accept a plea offer compared to 50% of adults, and 55% have decided to fully confessed compared to 15% of young adults (Farmer, 2011).
The results from these studies also indicate that competence to participate in the CJS is increased with age (Farmer, 2011). During detention and interrogation, an “appropriate adult”, like a parent or a guardian, must be present when dealing with juveniles during police questioning for protection (Farmer, 2011). However, in 62% of cases involving juveniles, these adults convinced the accused to waive their rights to legal representation, which is an indication of their decision making freedom being replaced by...

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