Adjudicative Competence of Youth

Although the early juvenile justice system did not require that adolescent defendants be able to understand and participate in their legal proceedings, courts have increasingly required that adolescent defendants, like adult criminal defendants, be competent to proceed to adjudication (competent to stand trial). This has raised a unique set of challenges for the courts and mental health clinicians. Research has indicated that young adolescents have high rates of deficits in competence-related legal capacities in comparison with adults. As described below, however, little is known about assessing and treating adjudicative incompetence in youth, and legal standards regarding youths' adjudicative competence remain unclear.

Legal Standards for Juvenile Competence

Since the 1700s, the legal system has required that adult defendants tried in criminal courts be competent to proceed to adjudication. ...

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