Bill Description: House Bill 388 would set a minimum age of 10 for criminal prosecution except in the case of murder in the first or second degree.
Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for nonviolent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes?
Currently, in Idaho, there is no minimum age for criminal prosecution. House Bill 388 would amend Section 20-502, Idaho Code, to set a minimum age of 10 years old except in cases where the juvenile is charged with murder in the first or second degree.
Setting a specific age limit for criminal prosecution limits both prosecutorial and judicial discretion and assumes a uniform level of competence and understanding based on age alone, even though some juveniles are far more mature at age 9 than others are at age 10.
Additionally troubling is the exclusion for murder in the first or second degree. If a juvenile is competent to stand trial for murder, he is equally capable of standing trial for other serious crimes such as attempted murder. Under the standard created by this bill, the competence and intent of a juvenile who committed a violent crime such as shooting someone would essentially be ignored, with only his age and accuracy being judged. (If the shot wasn't fatal, the crime would be attempted murder rather than murder.)
It is always problematic when the law tries to impose a one-size-fits-all concept of justice on situations that have not yet occurred and where the relevant specifics, nuances, and circumstances cannot be foreknown.
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