What is the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibilities in Australia?

September 25, 2023    criminaldefencelawyersperthwa
What is the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibilities in Australia?

Under Australian jurisdiction, a child below the age of 10 years will not be found guilty if they commit a criminal offence. The Criminal Appeal Lawyer pointed out that, in general, this is pretty consistent with the standards in the nations that follow the common law.

For children between the ages of 10 and 14, the prosecution has to provide evidence that the child was aware they committed a crime.

The Minimum Age of Illegal Responsibility in Australia

In Australia, the minimum age for criminal responsibility is 10 years. Every territory and state in the country has set the age to 10.
This clearly shows that the police across the country have full authority to imprison, strip-search, and arrest children who are 10 years old. This is typically a child in their 3rd or 4th year at their primary school.

Australia is said to have the lowest age for criminal responsibility globally because the worldwide age is 14 years.

The country has constantly received criticism from the United Nations.

Most recently, the nation was criticized by the Committee for the Termination of Racial Discrimination because Australia forgot to habilitate the existing minimum age.

There are many individuals who are still not aware that children who are 10 years of age will be held criminally responsible for their own actions. It’s because around 2/3rd of Australians believe that the age of criminal responsibility is 14.

Understanding the Indigenous Problem

Under Australia’s criminal justice system, indigenous children are at a disadvantage and most vulnerable. They are unreasonably wedged and also get to make up for the majority of the restrained children.

Professional and reputed Criminal Damage Lawyers have said that indigenous children are held behind bars at around 17 times the rate of non-indigenous children.

Apart from that, 6% of the Australian population are children who are between the ages of 10 and 17, and from 2017 to 2021, children under 14 were imprisoned. Among those children, 65% of them were indigenous, and 65% were not convicted of any kind of crime.

This clearly shows that all these children have encountered a system that was already against them. The age of criminal responsibility, which is set so low, will lead to a cycle of reoffending and imprisonment among all the indigenous children.

These children are pretty much presented disproportionately under the criminal justice system of Australia.

Increasing the Age from 10 to 14: Why It’s Necessary?

Recently, a campaign was created in the country to increase the age of criminal responsibility from 10 years to 14 years of age. This particular campaign has gained a lot of momentum, and there are valid reasons to increase it. These are:

1. Medical Science is Steady with the Existing Laws on Juvenile Size

Contemporary research has provided evidence that a child’s brain is still under development. Due to such reasons, they don’t understand the severity and consequences of their actions completely. When children suffer emotional harm at such a formative age, it will inflict lasting damage on their wellbeing.

2. Social Science Confirms the Risks of Early Contact

Locking children behind bars will not lessen the chances of offending. Rather, it will take them toward the path of reoffending because 94% of the kids who were imprisoned received another prison time right before they reached adulthood.
Children who get forced into the criminal justice system at a very young age might not get to complete their education on time and will not find any job.

3. The Human Rights Law Were Pretty Clear

On the “Rights of the Child”, the United Nations Committee has uninterruptedly pointed out that nations should start working on the minimum age of 14 or older than that.
The experts in shoplifting laws in Western Australia have also said that the United Nations has also disparaged Australia on such matters constantly. It’s because they did not raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14.

What Does the Current Law in Western Australia Say?

Under Section 29 of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act of 1913, an individual below the age of 10 is not viewed as criminally responsible for an omission or an act.

A person who is below the age of 14 is not held criminally accountable for an act or omission. But it’s only possible when it’s proved that during the time of making an omission or an act, he/she had the ability to know that he/she should not make the omission or conduct the act.

The Young Offenders Act of 1994 has described all young people as individuals who have not reached the age of 18. The Act will apply to someone who allegedly commits or commits an offense right before they turn 18 years of age.
Apart from that, the Act also mentions several other things, which are:

A young individual who is over 16 years of age can be imprisoned by the adults but will not be allowed to share the living accommodations with a grown-up.

Sections 50B, 50A, and 50 have different kinds of sentencing options for children who are under the age of 17, didn’t turn 18, and are over 18 of age during the time of punishment.

You can find more information on such matters by speaking with a lawyer who is an expert in criminal law. They can provide you with a clear and detailed understanding of the age of criminal responsibilities in Western Australia.


In Australia, the age of criminal obligation is 10 years, which is lower than the global age, which is 14. At present, many of the states and territories in the country are debating whether or not to raise the age.
It’s important to keep children safe from committing criminal offenses so that they don’t end up in prison. For the future and safety of the children, the federal government should think of raising the age of criminal responsibility across the whole country.
You can gain more information on the age of responsibility by speaking with the Criminal Defence Lawyers, as they are well-versed in such matters.

REQUEST A QUOTE NOW! Complete the form below for a fast response

  • A massive thank you to the criminal defence lawyers perth WA team for a great outcome of my friend case. Legal services provided were very professional and exceptionally great . Highly recommended criminal defence lawyers in perth and nearby.

    Praveen Dhundwal
  • Very good lawyers

    Rajneet Kaur
Enquire Now
Call Us Now