Criminal Age In Victoria To Be Lifted To 14 By 2027

“We need to response effectively”

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The criminal age for Victorian youth will be raised to 14 years old by 2027, which the first increment of changes to see the age risen from 10 to 12 years old by the end of next year.

Victoria will become the first state to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility – which the state government says will bolster “work to avoid young people entering the criminal justice system early and keeping the community safe.”

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As part of the reforms, the government will also codify and strengthen existing legal presumption known as doli incapax, which states children under 14 cannot be held criminally responsible unless they know their actions were seriously wrong. 

This is to better understand doli incapax and ensure its applied consistently in the courts.

The reforms come after medical evidence show young children are at a critical state of cognitive development and may be incapable of understanding their behaviour is very wrong. 

Evidence also reveals the younger a child is when they are first sentenced, the more likely they are to re-offend, and doing so violently, as adults.


Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said the reform has been carefully considered to ensure “fewer children are entering the criminal justice system and ensuring the safety of all Victorians.”

“When very young children engage in harmful behaviour, we know that something has gone terribly wrong in their life,” she said.

“We need to respond effectively and compassionately whilst still making sure they’re accountable for their actions.”

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Tricia Mifsud

27 April 2023

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Tricia Mifsud

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