Proposed Law May Incarcerate Kids As Young As 9 Years Old

Children are known for their wide-eyed innocence. People who have already journeyed into adulthood often wish to go back to their childhood years because of children's carefree spirit. This is why when kids commit a crime, many people will pin the blame on parents because they are supposed to mold and guide children. 

However, if a child grows in a cruel society where basic rights such as the right to education is denied, children may wake up to harsh reality. Their world crumbles down before it is even built. The proliferation of drugs no longer comes as a surprise in the country and children who become criminally liable are no longer new to taking illegal drugs. 

Since many crimes are committed by children as young as 9 years, a law has been proposed to put a lid on this problem. This means that the minimum age of criminal responsibility will be reduced from 15 to 9. Republic Act No. 9344 states that 15 is the minimum age of criminal responsibility. 

Republic Act No. 9344

Sec. 6. Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility. - A child fifteen (15) years of age or under at the time of the commission of the offense shall be exempt from criminal liability. However, the child shall be subjected to an intervention program pursuant to Section 20 of this Act.

A child above fifteen (15) years but below eighteen (18) years of age shall likewise be exempt from criminal liability and be subjected to an intervention program, unless he/she has acted with discernment, in which case, such child shall be subjected to the appropriate proceedings in accordance with this Act.

The exemption from criminal liability herein established does not include exemption from civil liability, which shall be enforced in accordance with existing laws.

Sec. 7. Determination of Age. - The child in conflict with the law shall enjoy the presumption of minority. He/She shall enjoy all the rights of a child in conflict with the law until he/she is proven to be eighteen (18) years old or older. The age of a child may be determined from the child's birth certificate, baptismal certificate or any other pertinent documents. In the absence of these documents, age may be based on information from the child himself/herself, testimonies of other persons, the physical appearance of the child and other relevant evidence. In case of doubt as to the age of the child, it shall be resolved in his/her favor.

Any person contesting the age of the child in conflict with the law prior to the filing of the information in any appropriate court may file a case in a summary proceeding for the determination of age before the Family Court which shall decide the case within twenty-four (24) hours from receipt of the appropriate pleadings of all interested parties.

If a case has been filed against the child in conflict with the law and is pending in the appropriate court, the person shall file a motion to determine the age of the child in the same court where the case is pending. Pending hearing on the said motion, proceedings on the main case shall be suspended.

In all proceedings, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges and other government officials concerned shall exert all efforts at determining the age of the child in conflict with the law.

Pinoy Attorney

Written by : Pinoy Attorney