Georgia is one of several southern states that embrace gun rights and parents’ rights to teach children how to use weapons. Unfortunately, children in your household may not fully understand the effects of what happens if they point the gun at another child and pull the trigger. Children are also more impressionable and may find themselves coaxed into false confessions when interviewed without a parent present.
One CNN article explains that, because of this, for hundreds of years, American law considered it impossible for anyone under 14 years old to form criminal intent. However, many states have put laws in place to undermine this.
What is criminal intent?
For a crime to take place, there must be a guilty act and a guilty mind. This stems from the individual knowing what he or she did was wrong and then committing the act anyway. When these two elements do not come together, despite the devastating consequences of whatever incident occurred, a criminal act did not take place.
When do children become capable of crimes?
Social scientists and lawmakers disagree on when a child becomes capable of forming criminal intent. No national standard exists for setting an age limit. This leaves the decision up to local courts and the answer varies. In fact, at the time of the article, there were 14 states with no minimum age requirement for adult charges. In Georgia, Amy’s Law provides prosecutors with great levels of flexibility when determining whether to charge children as adults.
Across the country, 200,000 minors face charges and become incarcerated, every year. While juvenile facilities are by no means good environments for children in your household, spending time in adult prisons is even worse. Professionals who review these cases express particular concern for higher rates of sexual assault, suicide and recidivism.