Defense of infancy  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The defense of infancy is a form of defense known as an excuse so that defendants falling within the definition of an "infant" are excluded from criminal liability for their actions, if at the relevant time, they had not reached an age of criminal responsibility. After reaching the initial age, there may be levels of responsibility dictated by age and the type of offense allegedly committed.

Under the English common law the defense of infancy was expressed as a set of presumptions. A child under the age of seven was presumed incapable of committing a crime. The presumption was conclusive prohibiting the prosecution from offering evidence that the child had the capacity to appreciate the nature and wrongfulness of what he had done. Children aged seven to fourteen were presumed incapable of committing a crime but the presumption was rebuttable. The prosecution could overcome the presumption by proving that the child understood what he was doing and that it was wrong. Children fourteen and older were presumed capable of committing a crime. However, the child could rebut this presumption by establishing that because of his immaturity he was incapable of understanding what he had done or the wrongfulness of his conduct.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Defense of infancy" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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