Child Criminal Law: An Overview of the Different Approaches


In many areas of the globe, juvenile criminals are frequently treated in the criminal justice system differently than are adult offenders. In Morocco, children under the age of 18 aren’t totally responsible with committed acts violating the criminal code, In fact, there are special rules stipulated in the third book of the Moroccan Penal Procedure Code apply to juvenile delinquents The term “child criminal law” is used to describe this body of legislation.

Child criminal law is designed to reduce the harshness of the criminal justice system on youths who are deemed too young to be held fully responsible for their actions. The law assumes that children are still naïve, and lack the full understanding of the consequences of their actions. This gives rise to the notion of mens rea (guilty mind) which states that for a crime to have been committed the person must have had intent or knowledge of the wrongfulness of their actions.

Child criminal law also emphasizes on protection and welfare of the child offenders while they are under the jurisdiction of the court. Moreover, child criminal law recognizes that minors may have different needs and circumstances than adult offenders and aims to consider these factors in determining appropriate interventions.

In many jurisdictions around the world, children aged 14 and under are typically referred to juvenile courts. Here, judges are required to take into account the age and maturity of the child as well as the seriousness of the crime when determining the sentence. In some countries there is also the notion of ‘raised age of criminal responsibility’. This means that some cases relating to children aged over 14 can still be heard by the juvenile courts. This typically happens in cases involving serious crimes like murder and rape.

While child criminal law is designed to protect children and give them more lenient punishments, the debate over how it should be applied continues to this day. Some argue that children of a certain age should still be held responsible for their actions and that the law should not make excuses for their behavior. Others believe that being more lenient and understanding towards young criminals will help to keep them off the path of crime in adulthood.

No matter the perspective, it is clear that child criminal law is a complex and important system which is in place to protect the rights of minors and ensure that their sentences are appropriate to their age. By taking into account the age and maturity of the child, and considering their capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of their actions, this system ensures that the young are not lost to a life of crime.

Finally, child criminal law offers a range of alternatives to incarceration such as counseling, community service and other rehabilitative measures to address the root causes of the offender’s behavior and reduce the likelihood of recidivism.


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