Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Every Secret Thing: Criminal Age of Responsibility



This is a polemic movie. The scenes were edited and put together for the effectiveness of the activity. My students enjoyed it a lot and we had a lot of discussion during the whole class. Very thought-provoking. Use it with adults only.




I. Work in small groups. Read some laws from different countries, regarding Criminal Age of Responsibility. Decide if you agree or disagree and why. Sometimes you can disagree partially, for example.

Children who commit crimes have a complicated status as far as the legal world is concerned. Since they are children with less understanding of the laws, they deserve special protections. However, since they are still minors, they do not have all the constitutional rights that adults have.


Argentina
No person can be held criminally responsible for anything done while under the age of 16. A child older than 16 but younger than 18 can only be held criminally responsible where the offence is punishable by deprivation of liberty for more than two years.


Bolivia
People can be held criminally responsible from the age of 16 [Penal Code, Article 5], but can be subject to socio-educative measures from the age of 12, including those amounting to deprivation of liberty.

Brazil
The minimum age of criminal responsibility is formally 18. If a person is under the age of 18, an alleged criminal offence is considered an infraction and the person would be subject to “socio-educative measures”. If over 12, the measures may include community service and partial or total institutionalization in a socio-education facility. If under 12, the child can be placed in a foster home or with a family, among other measures including psychological accompaniment and mandatory attendance of classes, which can also be applied to children older than 12.

Canada
No person can be convicted of an offence in respect of an act or omission committed while under under the age of 12. [Criminal Code, Section 13]


Haiti
Persons aged 13 or more can be sentenced to penal measures under the Penal Code [Penal Code, Articles 50 and 51].

Peru
The minimum age of criminal responsibility is formally 18. Where a person under 18 infringes the criminal law, he or she is considered to have committed “an infraction” and can be subjected to socio-educative measures, though these measures include deprivation of liberty.


Trinidad and Tobago
The minimum age of criminal responsibility is not defined by legislation and so is governed by the common law. Children under the age of seven cannot be held criminally responsible for any offence , and there is a presumption that children aged 10 to 14 cannot be held criminally responsible, though  this presumption can be rebutted where it can be demonstrated “that the child knew that his act was seriously wrong … at the time when he did it”.

The US

The minimum age of criminal liability is set at the federal and state level in the United States. At the state level, 33 states set no minimum age of criminal responsibility, theoretically allowing a child to be sentenced to criminal penalties at any age, though in most of these states a capacity related test is applied.


Belgium.
Children can be held criminally liable from the age of 12.


France.

Persons under the age of 18 “able to understand what they are doing” are criminally responsible for the felonies, misdemeanours or petty offences of which they have been found guilty, and may be subject to measures of protection, assistance, supervision and education according to the conditions laid down by specific legislation. There is no absolute minimum age set at which children become able to be held criminally responsible, but a child will usually be considered to have “discernment” between the ages of 8 and 10.


Netherlands.
Children can be held criminally liable for offences committed from the age of 12.

Norway.
No person can be punished for an offence committed while under the age of 15.

United Kingdom.
England and Wales.
Children can be held liable for criminal offences from the age of 10.


China
Mainland China
Generally, people can be held criminally responsible from the age of 16, but children can be held criminally responsible for intentional homicide, intentionally hurting another person so as to cause serious injury of death, rape, robbery, drug-trafficking, arson, explosion or poisoning from the age of 14.

India
No person can be held criminally responsible for an act committed while he or she was under the age of seven [Indian Penal Code, Section 82] and no person can be held criminally responsible for an act committed while under 12 while of “immature understanding”. A child will be considered to be of “immature understanding” when he or she “has not attained sufficient maturity of understanding to judge the nature and consequences of his conduct on that occasion.”

Indonesia
People can be held criminally responsible for their actions from the age of 8


South Africa
A child who commits an offence while under the age of 10 is not considered to have criminal capacity and so cannot be prosecuted. A child who is older than 10 but younger than 14 is presumed to lack criminal capacity unless the State proves otherwise. In order to prove that a child has criminal capacity, the State must demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that the child was able to appreciate the difference between right and wrong at the time of the commission of the alleged offence and to act in accordance with that appreciation. 


video

II. Watch the movie segment.

1. What was the crime?

2. They were children when the murder happened. What punishment should have been applied?

3. Was justice made? Why (not)?

4. What is the risk of convicting an innocent child that is the suspect of a crime? What are the consequences in a teen's life? Who was guilty? Both of them, none of them, or just one of them? Explain it.

4. Do you think they were aware of what they were doing? Does it make a difference in the situation?




MOVIE SEGMENT DOWNLOAD - EVERY SECRET THING



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