Should negligent parents be punished

Criminal liability of young people (criminal capacity)

A "crime" is committed by anyone who deliberately or negligently violates a law and the violation of the law is punishable at the time of the violation.

The ability to commit a crime is understood as the concrete ability to see what is not permitted in an action and to act accordingly.

Teenagersunder 14 years are not capable of tort, i.e.not punishable. So you cannot get a complaint and you cannot be convicted. However, this does not mean that educational measures cannot be taken, such as accommodation in a supervised shared apartment.

Under the age of 14, the young person can usually also not to compensation be committed. The parents are responsible for reparation for damage caused if they have not fulfilled their duty of supervision.

Adolescents are aged 14 and over criminally responsible and are liable for damages. Before convicting a juvenile, the court is obliged to check whether s / he was mature enough at the time of the offense to see the injustice of the offense and to act on this insight. If it is found that the young person was not able to understand, he / she is not capable of a criminal offense and is therefore not liable to prosecution. Young people are also not liable to prosecution between 14 and 16 years if they commit an offense, they are not at fault and the application of juvenile criminal law is not required for special reasons in order to deter juveniles from criminal acts.

The Penalty limits according to the Juvenile Court Act are in many cases lower than for adults.Jyouthful in the sense of the Youth Courts Act (JGG) are people between 14 and 18 years. Essentially, the maximum amount of threatened temporary imprisonment for young people is on the half is reduced and a minimum is not applicable. Also the maximum of Fines is on the half degraded.

since January 1, 2020 apply to young adults, these are people between 18 and 21 years of age, the general threats of punishmentwhen the offense with Imprisonment in the maximum of threatened for at least five years is and the perpetrator is one of the following deeds has committed:

  • A criminal offense against life and limb
  • A criminal offense against sexual integrity and self-determination
  • A criminal offense under Section 25 of the Special Part of the Criminal Code (genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes)
  • A criminal offense as a member of a criminal organization
  • Leading and participating in a terrorist organization

In these cases, however, a maximum of 20 years' imprisonment may be imposed on young adults.

In all other cases, the minimum level of the threatened temporary imprisonment is generally based on that of juveniles and no stricter imprisonment than 15 years may be recognized.


If the personal development of a minor who is accused of a criminal offense is expected to be at risk, the guardianship court must examine whether dispositions with regard to custody are required.

If the court determines that the welfare of a minor is endangered by his / her family situation, it must - if other suitable relatives are out of the question - entrust the child welfare agency with custody (possibly only partially). This person has to ensure the best interests of the child - depending on the situation - through the following measures:

  • Support of upbringing (e.g. counseling, therapeutic assistance), whereby the child remains in his family's household
  • Full upbringing through placement in a foster family, a shared apartment or in a youth home


Further information on rights in dealing with the police and the court, as well as the importance of some important laws for young people, can be found on the website of the Taschenanwältin.

Special features of juvenile criminal proceedings

The public prosecutor's office or the court in whose district the accused has or had his / her habitual residence at the time of the start of the criminal proceedings is locally responsible for juvenile criminal matters.

For Young people between 14 and 18 years of agewho must be charged with a crime imperative a Defense attorneya defender be added in the following cases:

  • in proceedings before the regional courts for the entire proceedings
  • in proceedings before the district courts if this is necessary or expedient in the interests of the administration of justice, especially to safeguard the rights of the young person, but in any case if no legal representative can assist the young person in criminal proceedings or no legal representative has appeared despite proper summons.

If an accused young person between the ages of 14 and 18 has the right to be heard or to be present during investigations or the taking of evidence, this right also applies thelegal representative/ thelegal representatives to. This also applies to the inspection of files, unless the legal representative is suspected of having participated in the crime.

With the accused Adolescents between 14 and 18 years of age is the Publicity the main hearing in criminal proceedings either ex officio or upon request to excludeif this is in the interest of the young person. In the event of exclusion, the legal representative, legal guardians, probation officers and representatives of the youth welfare agency, the youth justice department and probation department can still attend the main hearing.

In criminal proceedings because of a criminal act that was committed by juveniles, the persons employed must Jury or jury have a professional relationship with young people (e.g. as a teacher, educator or have worked in youth welfare). In each Jury Therefore, four people who work or have been active in the teaching profession, as educators or in public or private youth welfare or youth care must be appointed as jurors. Each Jury must include such a person. In addition, there must be at least two jurors in the jury, and at least one in the jury Gender of the accused belong.


With the accused Young people between 14 and 18 years of age the legal representative is entitled to object to the indictment for the young person, even against his / her will, and to take all legal remedies that the law grants the young person. If the court knows that someone other than the legal representative is responsible for the care and upbringing of the young person, this person is also entitled to the right.

The social services of the federal states, in particular the Office for Youth and Family at the responsible district administrative authority (district administration or magistrate, in Vienna: MA 11 (→ City of Vienna)), offer young people who have committed criminal offenses and their families a wide range of advisory, supportive and therapeutic help.


The NEUSTART association offers counseling, support, crisis intervention, conflict resolution, damage compensation, prevention and criminal assistance to young people who have committed criminal offenses through support with probation assistance, assistance to those released from prison, housing and crisis relief facilities and support with out-of-court settlement of offenses.

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Last updated: February 4, 2021

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