Title

Fitness to plead in Queensland's youth justice system: The need for pragmatic reform

Date of this Version

2-1-2015

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Citation only

O'Toole, S., O'Leary, J., & Watt, B.D. (2015). Fitness to plead in Queensland's youth justice system: The need for pragmatic reform. Criminal Law Journal, 39(1), 40-52.

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2015 HERDC submission

© Copyright, 2015 Thomson Reuters (Professional) Australia Limited

ISSN

0314-1160

Abstract

Although research indicates that juveniles should be found unfit to plead at a greater rate than adults, that is not the case in Queensland. This article presents data from a research project designed to explore potential reasons for this anomaly.The data from that project revealed that the main reason rests with legal practitioners who decide not to raise unfitness. Such a decision is usually either due to jurisdictional constraints or other strategic or pragmatic concerns. In this article, it is argued that the law on fitness to plead in Queensland is in need of reform to combat such practice. The article analyses the law in other Australian States and Territories and the recommendations from the Review of the Mental Health Act 2000 (Qld) in search of a better approach.

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This document has been peer reviewed.