MINIMUM AGE FOR CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY IN KENYA
Minimum Age for Criminal Responsibility; in Kenya, the law applies to everyone whether rich or poor. However, when it comes to children of a certain age the law normally turns a blind eye since children in most cases don’t have the ability to understand the legal consequences of their actions.
In addition, they are also considered incapable of delivering any evidence since they don’t comprehend the repercussions of giving false evidence. So, with all said and done, we take you through the minimum age for one to take full responsibility for their action or inactions. We also look at Irrebutable Presumption and Rebutabble Presumption of Innocence,
Minimum Age for Criminal Responsibility (Irrebutable Presumption)
The penal code, laws of Kenya under section 14.1, the right age for a Kenyan citizen to take legal responsibility is 8 years. Anybody below this age can not be charged or prosecuted for any offenses committed.
According to the law, children below the age of eight are incapable of differentiating right and wrong thus the law can’t be able to question, charge, or prosecute. This age of 0-8 falls under the irrebuttable presumption of innocence.
In addition, this category of irrebuttable presumption of innocence also protects someone who is above eight years but below 12 years. While section 14.1 set the required age for criminal responsibility at 8 years, section 14.4 protects a minor above the age of eight but below the age of 12 from several offenses like rape or defilement, as the law states, a minor in that age bracket is incapable of carnal knowledge.
In rebuttable presumption of innocence, the law states that any minor of the age bracket 8-12 years can be criminally liable if the court can be convinced that the minor involved was aware of his/her action and he/she understands the consequences of his/her actions or inactions.
In this category, the minors involved must be investigated to identify whether they comprehend the repercussion of their crimes. After the investigations, the court now gives the directive if the minor can be subjected to the children’s court or not.
The main aim of the investigation of this age group is because intellectually children develop differently and you can find a 9-year-old is more intellectual than an 11-year-old. For a minor above 12 years, the law is crystal clear that such a minor can fully differentiate between wrong and right.
In the case of above 12 and below 18 persons the law allows such persons to be arraigned in the children’s courts. However, if they are mentally unfit the case becomes different and they can end up being discharged.
Minimum Age for Criminal Responsibility Conclusion
As we wrap up, section 2 of the children’s Act states that any minor below the age of 10 shouldn’t be prosecuted or charged for whatever offenses they may have committed. However, with the penal code setting the limit at 8 years it means that a 9-year-old minor can be prosecuted which is against the children’s Act. To avoid age conflict the government should balance the age in both sections.
According to international law, the age is set at 12 years but a country like Sierra Leone has set the bar high setting the age at 14 years. Most countries’ age stands at 12 but in Kenya, they have decided to stick at 8 years.