The tables below are evidences of an increased crime rate among youth offenders and predicts a continuing increase of such crimes in the future. Table 1 Juvenile delinquency cases (Snyder & Sickmund 2006) Table 2-5 Juvenile cases by offense category Table 2 Person category Table 3 Drugs Category Table 4 Property Category Table 5 Public Order Category Position statement Ignorantia juris non excusat or Ignoratia legis neminem excusat is a known Latin terminology which means ignorance of the law does not excuse a person to escape liability for violating a law he claims to be unaware of its content.
The doctrine requires all people a fair opportunity to know what the law is and does not intend to protect people who claim not knowing about a law that is fairly knowable and available. Criminal law is very much capable of defining criminal conducts on special circumstances when it attempts to create formulation of justification defenses or display impressive insights in defining justifications. This shows the determined and fixed stand of the court to implement never to use in defense claims of lack of knowledge for ignorance of the law shall never ever be admitted as an excuse.
Public policy has the absolute privilege to sacrifice an individual to the general good inasmuch as to desire that the burden of all shall be equal which means that consideration governs only as far as the public welfare permits or demands and that cannot be finally determined by considering the actual personal unworthiness of the criminal alone but the actual state of mind accompanying the criminal act. It is assumed that the condition of a man’s heart or conscience ought to be more considered in the determination of its criminal liability where it exist as a sin in an action against the law that serves to define what constitutes a crime.
The concept of mens rea or the guilty mind is the premise upon which society thinks it is fair and just to punish wrongdoers who acted with an intent or purpose that makes them morally blameworthy. Mens rea is the underlying justification for the enactment of a criminal law being the person who behaves with the mental state to make them morally blameworthy for the death or murder committed. Mens rea largely depends on the age of the child and the State in which a crime is committed but leaves room for judges to determine that a particular youthful offender did have mens rea.
American law excuses criminal acts on children under age seven. Common law presumed children between ages seven to fourteen are not liable for their criminal acts. However prosecutors are able to present evidence of a child’s mental capacity to form mens rea (Cole & Smith 2004). The Jury may therefore assume the presence of a guilty mind if shown where the assumption of immaturity weakens as the child grows older. Juvenile offenders ageing above seven can be tried as adults if they show records being repeat offenders or charged with a particular heinous crime.
Public outcry on violent crimes made by young offenders has increasingly made prosecutors to hold children for serious crimes in the same manner that adults were held responsible especially when an accused person has made a mistake of fact in some crucial way. Why the discussion of ignorance of the law, mens rea and strict liability laws for juvenile delinquents? Juvenile delinquents apart from the age assumed by the State that comprised their immunity from being tried in adult courts qualifies in the above discussions.
This paper seeks to support the continued transfer of youth offenders to adult court for the greater good of the society. Other juvenile offenders who are potential to taking heinous crimes must learn to fear the law and learn to take responsibility on their actions. Laxity of the law would mean abuse on acts of crime with mens rea. A child learns to define good and evil and right and wrong at the very early age of three to four years old which concludes their values formation and base cultural beliefs and practices.
They always know what is bad and what is good at such an early age. Heinous crimes all the more have relevant definition in their system of judgement between bad and good motives. If the Court by virtue of the theory of the juvenile justice system continues to exempt them from their liability then witnessing present practice may conclude that committing heinous crimes are only bad for adult and ages above seventeen or eighteen. Will society continue to allow commission of crimes below those specified ages?
Continuing to allow excuse for such crimes will mean tolerance for getting killed by juveniles and inconsideration for the loss of life and property undertaken by the excuse made on the commission of the crime.
Snyder, H. & Sickmund, M. (2006). Juvenile offenders and victims: 2006 national report, Graphs from Chapter 6: Juvenile offenders in court. Retrieved June 4, 2007 Website: http://ojjdp. ncjrs. gov/ojstatbb/nr2006/index. html Cole, G. & Smith, C. (2004). The American system of criminal justice. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.