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What are Infancy Special Defenses?

Infancy Special Defenses

When involved in a criminal case, it is extremely important to become familiar with criminal defense law and to develop an adequate and effective defense. There are many different types of criminal defenses and stances that an offender may decide to take. Adopting successful and believable criminal defenses is the key to escaping conviction or receiving a lighter sentence.

One of the more common and seemingly straightforward types of criminal defenses is the infancy defense. The infancy defense may be used when a defendant is a minor who is under the age designated to be the legal age of criminal liability. Criminal defense law recognizes that children do not have the same cognitive ability as adults. Their brains are still maturing and developing, and therefore, they do not have adequate impulse control and are likely to act on negative feelings and emotions.

Children are incapable of effectively evaluating and understanding the consequences and effects of their actions. Therefore, children cannot be held liable for any criminal activity in which they take part. Federal criminal defense law has established an age that denotes when children become criminally liable for their actions. In the United States, a child cannot be held legally accountable for criminal activities if they are under the age of seven. However, this minimum age may vary a great deal from one State to another.

The majority of states within the United States have not established a minimum age in which defendants can employ infancy criminal defenses. Criminal defense law in the states of New Jersey, California, Idaho, Utah, and Texas do not hold minors liable for criminal activity if they are under the age of fourteen. Georgia, New Hampshire, New York and Illinois will not convict a child under the age of thirteen of a crime.

These states believe that a child is not capable of intentionally committing a crime until they reach age of criminal responsibility. A minor who has not yet reached this age does not have the experience or the intellectual capacity to understand the consequences that would result from their actions. Therefore, they cannot be charged with a crime.

In other states, criminal defense law reflects the belief that even young children are aware that certain actions are wrong and detrimental. In these states, infancy criminal defenses may not be successful in avoiding legal responsibility. Instead, a minor may be tried and sentenced in the juvenile justice system.

Juvenile justice systems have been developed because states believe that minors should be held accountable for their actions, but they cannot be treated the same as adults because they do not have the same experiences, education, and physiology as adults. However, most states have established criminal defense law that does recognize certain instances in which a juvenile should be tried as an adult. In instances such as these, infancy criminal defenses will generally not be successful in absolving criminal liability.

There are many factors that are taken into consideration when debating the necessity and morality of trying a minor as an adult. These factors include the juvenile's criminal history, the child's age, and the severity of the crime that they have committed

NEXT: What Personal Defenses Work in a Criminal Case?

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