Letter to the Editor, 0419 UTBJ, Vol. 32, No. 2. 8

PositionVol. 32 2 Pg. 8

Letter to the Editor

Vol. 32 No. 2 Pg. 8

Utah Bar Journal

April, 2019






and Detention: Should There Be a Minimum Age Limit for

Juvenile Delinquency in Utah?” provided a solution in

search of a problem.


title of the article suggests that babies could be placed in

detention. No, R574 is clear: children twelve and older can

only be placed in detention for serious misdemeanor level

offenses and for felony level offenses, and children ten and

older can only be placed in detention for serious felony

level offenses or attempts. No one under ten is going to

detention on delinquency charges, and few children under

twelve. Moreover, detention stays are statutorily quite

limited in time.


bulk of the article says that children can be referred to

juvenile court for delinquency prosecution at any age, even

as newborns. That is not true either. There is a lower limit

on prosecution, it’s mens rea. A young child

can’t formulate it, which is why a young child

can’t be prosecuted.

A count

of the states listed in the article that have a minimum age

makes clear that those states are in a minority. A review of

the U.S. Supreme Court case law cited in the article does not

even suggest in dicta that the U.S. Constitution contains a

minimum age limit for either nonjudicial or judicial

resolution, and a reading of...

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