Article

Competence and Criminal Responsibility in Adolescent Defendants

Jodi Viljoen, Erika Penner and Ronald Roesch

in The Oxford Handbook of Juvenile Crime and Juvenile Justice

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780195385106
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195385106.013.0022

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Competence and Criminal Responsibility in Adolescent Defendants

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The law has required that adult defendants cannot be tried unless they have an ability to understand and participate adequately in legal proceedings against them. Another legal protection for mentally ill defendants is insanity defense or criminal responsibility laws. Historically these legal protections were not applied to adolescents tried in juvenile court. The purpose of this article is to examine the application of competence and criminal responsibility laws to adolescents, with a focus on some of the challenges that have arisen. It discusses relevant legal standards and the role of mental illness and developmental immaturity and highlights the implications for courts, attorneys, and mental health clinicians. At the present time, many issues pertaining to potentially incompetent and not guilty by reason of insanity adolescents remain undecided. There is a need for further research on the characteristics and needs of these adolescents and appropriate assessment and treatment approaches.

Keywords: law; criminal responsibility; mentally ill defendants; insanity defense; legal standards

Article.  10222 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice

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