Juvenile Delinquency and Parental Responsibility
Parents should not be blamed for the criminal behavior of their children unless it is proved that the parent encouraged, condoned, supervised, or abated the crime in any manner. If the child acted on their own volition, then the parent should not be responsible for juvenile delinquency. Introduction Juvenile delinquency is a criminal offence committed by a person below the age of majority (Siegel & Welsh, 2014). Most jurisdictions have statutory age of majority, where it is deemed that individuals who do not meet the strict definition of an adult have no capacity to commit crime or engage in legal contracts. Cases concerning juvenile delinquency can be handled in either juvenile detention centers or courts depending on the gravity of the crime. It is assumed that children have no mental capacity to commit any crime thus they are not ready to face the consequences of their actions.
Subjecting a child to jail terms would be interpreted as a violation of children right. Since every crime calls for punishment relative to the degree of the offence, children are substituted with their parents. In Miller V. Alabama, the United States Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to subject a juvenile offender to a mandatory life sentences without considering an option of parole. Children are rational beings and should be held accountable for their crimes unless if they were acting under the directions or encouragement of their parents. The method of punishment should be informed by the gravity of the offence. A felony should attract a capital punishment albeit with lenient terms while a misdemeanor should be punished through a community service.
Analysis and Defenses Many teens break the law thinking that they will walk scot free. They engage in unlawful activities such as vandalism, underage drinking, possession of drugs, cyber bullying, physical assault, defamation, and traffic offences. They know what constitutes a crime and the consequences that follow. Most of the crimes committed by children have nothing to do with their parents. They are committed without the parent’s knowledge. Therefore, it is unfair to drag in the parent when his/her child has committed an offence. Unless the parent directed, supervised, condoned, or encouraged the activity. The proponents of parent responsibility may argue that a child who is not properly raised is likely to engage in crime. This narrative is not true.
A child can still steal his friend’s bracelet even if the parents had warned him not to steal. Stealing is a psychological issue and has so little to with the child’s upbringing. Therefore, is a child is found committing a crime; the authorities should deal with him/her accordingly. Most Europeans countries have enacted laws that absolve blame from minors who are below 14 years. Although this is reasonable, there are still some teenagers who can abuse this special protection. Defense of Infancy The defense of infancy is a recognized defense in criminal law. It is used by criminal offenders who fall within the definition of an infant. Individuals who manage to convince the court based on infancy defense are excluded from criminal liability (Green, 2017).
In most jurisdictions, the doctrine of doli incapax has been expanded to include all persons under age of 18 (Green, 2017). Age limitations in criminal responsibility are governed by age of majority statutes. The infancy defense is in the same category as insanity defense since both principles appreciates the defendant’s mental condition. Both scientifically and psychologically, people below the age 18 years are yet to attain full mental development that influences their judgment. Therefore, their actions can be based on uninformed reasons thus it is recommendable to absolve them from blame arising from their actions. Alabama and Braham v. Florida expressly outlawed harsh punishment of young offenders. However, they did not state that the minor offenders should be freed. The competent courts appreciated that minor offenders should not be subjected to harsh conditions but they should be punished under reasonable terms.
This would mean that jailing a minor for a shorter period of time for the same offence that would attract longer jail term for an adult offender. Due to the social, cultural, and economic factors, parents are expected to supervise their children. Conservative’s argue that parental neglect can contribute to the child’s behavior and any parent proved to be neglectful should be hold responsible. In 1988, California legislature passed Street Terrorism and Prevention Act, which provides for prison term and fines for parents who grossly fails to comply with normal standards of supervision (Muncie, 2014). This law was later upheld by the California Supreme Court. Although parental responsibility is very essential in preventing crime, it is unjust to make parents pay for the sins of their children (Hawkins & Weis, 2017).
However, a child can also be taken through the normal criminal justice depending on the degree of the offence. Crimes that are classified under felony van only be tried in the criminal justice system. Courts will rarely examine parental responsibility when entertaining fellow cases especially for minors aged 15 years and above (Cipriani, 2016). This is because courts assume that a person is who is above 14 years old is capable of standing a criminal trial since they are conscious beings. Even when in the juvenile justice system, parental responsibility will be a secondary element for consideration. The Supreme Court Cases of Miller V. Alabama and Braham v. Florida have already set out the precedent. The Supreme Court outlaws extreme sentences on children. This is means that the court recognizes that children should be held criminally responsible but the punishment should not be severe.
From $10 to earn access
Only on Studyloop