Are minors exempted from criminal liability? To whom should a minor aged 14 years old, who was in custody of the police, be released?
A child aged 15 years old or below at the time of the commission of the offense shall be exempt from criminal liability, but he shall be subjected to an intervention program pursuant to Republic Act No. 9344 and its amending law RA No. 10630.
A child above the age of 15 years but below 18 years of age shall likewise be exempt from criminal liability and be subjected to an intervention program, unless such minor has acted with discernment, in which case, he shall be subjected to the appropriate proceedings in accordance with RA 9344 and RA 10630 (Section 3, RA 10630).
A minor who is being accused of an offense shall enjoy the presumption that he is a minor. As such, he shall be afforded all the rights of a child in conflict with the law (CICL) until he is proven to be 18 years or older. The age of the minor may be determined from his 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 (Section 7, RA 9344).
If a child that was taken into custody has been determined to be 15 years old or below, he shall be released immediately in accordance with Section 6 of RA No. 10630, to wit: Section 6. Section 20 of Republic Act No. 9344 is hereby amended to read as follows: “Section 20. Children Below the Age of Criminal Responsibility. – If it has been determined that the child taken into custody is 15 years old or below, the authority which will have an initial contact with the child, in consultation with the local social welfare and development officer, has the duty to immediately release the child to the custody of his/her parents or guardian, or in the absence thereof, the child’s nearest relative. The child shall be subjected to a community-based intervention program supervised by the local social welfare and development officer, unless the best interest of the child requires the referral of the child to a youth care facility or ‘Bahay Pag-asa’ managed by LGUs [local government units]or licensed and/or accredited NGOs [non-government organization] monitored by the DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development].
“The local social welfare and development officer shall determine the appropriate programs for the child who has been released, in consultation with the child and the person having custody over the child. If the parents, guardians or nearest relatives cannot be located, or if they refuse to take custody, the child may be released to any of the following:
“(a) A duly registered nongovernmental or religious organization;
“(b) A barangay official or a member of the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC);
“(c) A local social welfare and development officer; or, when and where appropriate, the DSWD. xxx”
We hope that we were able to answer your query. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts that you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
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