Age of criminal responsibility in Australia
The age of criminal responsibility in Australia is the age below which a child is deemed incapable of having committed a criminal offence. In legal terms, it is referred to as a defence of infancy.
All States and self-governing Territories of Australia have adopted 10 years of age as a uniform age of criminal responsibility.
Doli incapax refers to a presumption that a child is "incapable of crime" under legislation or common law. Or rather, the presumption that a child cannot form mens rea as they do not yet have a sufficient understanding between "right and wrong". In the context of Australian law, doli incapax acts as a rebuttable presumption for children aged at least 10 but less than 14.
To rebut this presumption, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the child knew that the act was seriously wrong (not by standards of law, but morally or according to the ordinary principles of reasonable persons) “as distinct from an act of mere naughtiness or childish mischief”.
Ages of criminal responsibility by jurisdiction
- Australian Institute of Criminology, The age of criminal responsibility, September 2005 (Canberra). Accessed online at https://aic.gov.au/publications/cfi/cfi106
- R v CRH (Unreported, NSW Court of Criminal Appeal, Smart, Hidden and Newman JJ, 18 December 1996); C (A Minor) v DPP  2 WLR 383, 401-2; BP v R, SW v R  NSWCCA 172 (1 June 2006).
- R v LMW  NSWSC 1109, 17 November 1999
- Australian government guide