1. RP’s appeal was unanimously allowed on the presumption of lack of criminal responsibility by offenders under 14 years of age.
2. The ‘mens rea’ was being questioned by the High Court.
3. Burden of proof refers to who has the responsibility of proving a case in court. This burden rests on the prosecution in criminal law. In RP v The Queen, the High Court found that the prosecution had failed to prove that RP “understood the moral wrongness of his acts”. The standard of proof refers to the amount of evidence that a party must present to prove a case. In criminal law, the prosecution must demonstrate that the accused is guilty of a crime beyond reasonable doubt. The Court found that it could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt that an 11-year-old understood that his conduct was seriously wrong in a moral sense.
4. Doliincapax is a Latin term that means “incapable of crime”. In common law it is presumed that a child under the age of 14 years does not know the difference between right and wrong and does not have the capacity to be liable for his or her behaviour. The plurality in RP v The Queen (Kiefel, Bell, Keane and Gordon JJ) stated that, “The rationale for the presumption of doliincapax is the view that a child aged under 14 years is not sufficiently intellectually and morally developed to appreciate the difference between right and wrong and thus lacks the capacity for mens rea. Mens reais a Latin term meaning ‘guilty mind’. It refers to the intent to commit a criminal offence. Mens rea generally relates to the state of mind of an accused in regards to his or her knowledge of the facts that make the behaviour criminal. In other words, an act is regarded as intentional if it is performed voluntarily or willingly by a person with a conscious and capable mind. RP’s appeal was unanimously allowed on the presumption of lack of criminal responsibility by offenders under 14 years of age.