A child under the age of 10 years cannot be charged with a criminal offence [see Young Offenders Act 1993 (SA) s 5].
Children between the ages of 10 and 14 years can be charged with a criminal offence, but there is a presumption that a child between these ages does not yet have the capacity to know right from wrong and so cannot form an intention to carry out a criminal act. This is known as the common law doctrine of doli incapax. However, this can be rebutted by evidence to the contrary, as was done in a case where a 12 year old boy was charged with murder and evidence was admitted showing that he had an appreciation of right and wrong R v M (1977) 16 SASR 589.
A victim of a crime committed by a person (including a child) may apply for compensation from the Victims of Crime Fund for injuries suffered as a result of the crime. The Fund can then recover monies paid out to the victim from the offender, see VICTIMS OF CRIME.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.