Children and Crime: Doli (In)Capax – An Article by Marie-Armance Renaud

Doli incapax is defined as ‘incapable of evil’ or ‘incapable of committing an offence’. As things stand, children under 10 years old are irrebuttably presumed to be incapable of criminal responsibility.

Until 1998, the rebuttable presumption of doli incapax applied as a buffer for children aged 10 to 13 years old.

The presumption has now been abolished and in effect leaves children between 10 and 13 to be treated as equally responsible as adults, however the presumption remains applicable in cases of a historic nature.

With the recent increase in prosecutions for historical sexual offences, it is useful to take a closer look at the doctrine, and to examine its principles and use in courts.

Marie-Armance Renaud explores this topic of Doli Incapax in these historic cases.


Marie-Armance Renaud is currently a pupil at Church Court Chambers and will be available for instruction from March 2023.

Published on January 4, 2023

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