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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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In 1977 and 1978 did the term doli incapax include or not

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In 1977 and 1978 did the term 'doli incapax' include or not include the year between a person's 14th and 15th birthday? Or did a person become criminally responsible from their 14th birthday?
What would the prosecution and defence situation have been for a defendant aged between 14 and 15?
S.16(2) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963 provides as follows:
In any proceedings for an offence committed or alleged to have been committed by a person of or over the age of twenty-one, any offence of which he was found guilty while under the age of fourteen shall be disregarded for the purposes of any evidence relating to his previous convictions; and he shall not be asked, and if asked shall not be required to answer, any question relating to such an offence, notwithstanding that the question would otherwise be admissible under section 1 of the Criminal Evidence Act 1898.
The above Act would have been applicable in 1977/1978 and anyone over 14 would not have been covered by the doli incapax rule at that time.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi, This doesn't really answer my question because it isn't relating to someone being guilty of previous convictions. It is about someone who is 50 years old now but I am accusing of offences that occurred when he was between 14 and 15 years old.

The CPS are saying he has to have been under 15 years old at the time of the offences, otherwise if under 15 he would still have been covered by the doli incapax rule. However, from what I have read on the internet it says that in 1977 / 1978 doli incapax only went up to a person's 14th birthday and not beyond. Which of these is correct?

Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Sorry for the delay. I was offline. I am a criminal lawyer and I can see what you are asking.
Doli incapax has long since been abolished but it was the principle that a child under 15 did not know that an act was seriously wrong. It was not a blanket ban but just a presumption.
So, a person under 10 could not be prosecuted at all.
Thereafter, a person between the ages of 10-14 could be prosecuted but the Crown had to prove that they knew it was 'seriously wrong' at the time of acting.
In short, CPS are right I'm afraid. It was a commonlaw presumption that covered children between the ages of 10-14. A child who is 14 and x number of months old is still 14 and so would be covered.
To be wholly honest, its always difficult to prove stale offences anyway. If this is a sexual offence then doli incapax is unlikely to be hugely important but the problem is delay.
Sorry if thats bad news.
Can I clarify anything for you?

Sorry for the duplication. I clicked answer twice.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Jo, thanks for that. Not really the news I was hoping for, but I am grateful for your clarification on that. Many thanks. It is very confusing for me as a non legal person because a lot of info on the internet says it only goes up to the 14th birthday. Even two lawyers at the CPS said that. Anyway, thanks for the clarification

Yes, I know it is expressed in that way - 10 - 14. It actually involved 10-14 inclusive so it covered a person up until they were 15.
No problem and all the best.
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Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71140
Experience: Over 5 years in practice
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