Home Law International Handbook of Juvenile Justice
AGE OF MAJORITY
As has been said criminal responsibility in Germany starts at 14 years of age, but between 14 and 18 the juvenile is only criminally responsible if he/she “according to his/her physical and psychological development is able to recognize the wrongdoing of the criminal act and is able to act according to this cognitive discernment” (§ 3 JJA). Full criminal responsibility is given at the age of 18, but until the young adult reaches the age of 21, the sanctions of the JJA apply if a global examination of the offender’s personality and of his social environment indicates that at the time of committing the crime the young adult in his moral and psychological development was like a juvenile or if the motives and the circumstances of the offence are those of a typically juvenile crime (§
105 I No. 1 et 2 JJA).
Civil majority is given at the age of 18, before that age (from 7 to 17 years of age) juveniles can contract only with the consent of their parents (see sect. 104,
106 Civil Law, Btirgerliches Gesetzbuch, BGB). Children between 7 and 17, however, can contract in matters of daily life, e.g., buy things in a bakery or supermarket, if the goods belong to the daily life. Juveniles between 14 and 17 years of age have enlarged rights to dispose of pocket money and earnings without the consent of parents.
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