A five-year-old California boy who fatally stabbed his twin brother last week won’t be charged with a crime, according to authorities.
The case illustrates how many US states have policies setting a minimum age for prosecution, taking into account knowledge of wrongfulness and criminal intent. In California, children who are younger than 14 are presumed to be incapable of committing crimes unless “at the time of … the act charged against them, they knew its wrongfulness”, according to the state’s penal code.
The twins at the center of the recent killing in California were fighting Wednesday when one brother grabbed a small kitchen knife and stabbed his sibling in unincorporated Scotts Valley, according to the Santa Cruz county sheriff’s office. The wounded boy died at the hospital.
“We are heartbroken for the family of these two young children and share in their grief,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday. However, the agency added, authorities do not plan to file criminal charges in the death.
“California law dictates that age, criminal intent, and knowledge of wrongfulness are factors needed to charge a child with a crime,” the Facebook post by the sheriff’s office said. “Based on the current investigation, there is no indication of negligence or criminal activity by any other party” either.
Scotts Valley is roughly 55 miles (89km) south of San Francisco.