Legal Questions Arising from Inclusion of Young Children in Delinquency Jurisdiction

Children in North Carolina can be tried as respondents in delinquency proceedings for their actions beginning at age 6. The inclusion of young children in delinquency jurisdiction, some of whom may be young enough to remain staunch believers in Santa and to eagerly await a visit from the tooth fairy or the Easter bunny, raises significant legal questions in light of their developmental maturity. Those questions include:

  • whether the infancy defense should play a role in delinquency proceedings?
  • whether the capacity standard used in delinquency proceedings should explicitly account for developmental immaturity?
  • at what point do children develop the skills necessary to function as a competent respondent?

A new Juvenile Law Bulletin, Including Young Children in Delinquency Jurisdiction: Issues of Infancy and Capacity, is now available and discusses these issues in-depth. This blog provides some highlights of the bulletin.

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