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Dutch System (From Children Who Kill, P 147-150, 1996, Paul Cavadino, ed. - See NCJ-166255)

NCJ Number
P van Teeffelen
Date Published
4 pages
This article describes a new Criminal Minors Code and a new Civil Minors Code which came into force in the Netherlands in 1995.
A new Criminal Minors Code and a new Civil Minors Code, both of which became effective in the Netherlands in the fall of 1995, reduced the central position of juvenile court magistrates. Previously those judges had been the focus for coordinating help and ensuring justice for juveniles. Under the new criminal law lesser offenses do not go to a court hearing; only serious offenders will be punished there, and more severely. Whereas in the past there was a maximum penalty of only six months, now the maximum penalty for children between 12 and 16 years old is one year, and for 16- and 17-year-old minors the maximum penalty has been raised to two years, narrowing the gap between the criminal law for young people and adults. Children under the age of 12 are not considered criminally responsible. Even if the Criminal Adults Code applies to a child, the trial remains a juvenile trial, closed to the public and the press. Minors apprehended by the police can be locked up for six hours, after which the Crown prosecutor can authorize detention for three days, with the possibility of a three-day extension. The minor is held separate from adults and is brought into contact with: a lawyer; social workers from the youth protection council: the examining magistrate; three magistrates of the court; and a psychiatrist or psychologist. At several points during the three-day period decisions are made regarding further detention and the juvenile can be assigned to an institution for help and support or to a special observation center. The Netherlands uses the principle of opportuneness, i.e., prosecution of a young person can be stopped if it is decided that this is in the public interest.