Capacity Hearing Required for Juveniles Under 12

State v. A.X.K. No. 52357-4 (February 11, 2020), Washington Court of Appeals, Division Two.

Brief: Capacity is not an element of the crime of attempted first degree rape of a child under RCW 9A.28.020(1) and 9A.44.073(1). Remand was necessary because no capacity hearing was held and a presumption existed that the juvenile lacked capacity since he was under 12 when the alleged crime occurred. If the juvenile court determines in remand that the juvenile did not have capacity to commit the charged offense, the adjudication must be dismissed.

Translation: A juvenile under 12 is presumed to lack capacity to understand the nature of charge(s) against him/her and to assist in his/her defense. Before this kind of a case can proceed, the court must hold a “capacity hearing” to determine whether the child can adequately understand the nature of the allegation(s) and assist their attorney.

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