Commentary: Competence to stand trial in juveniles and the judgment model

J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2011;39(3):327-31.


In their study of 927 youths, Kivisto and colleagues found that future orientation, as well as age and intellectual ability, are associated with capacities indicating competence to stand trial. They conclude that the relationship between the capacity to make reasoned decisions and age is partially explained by variable development in future orientation. In particular, the findings of Kivisto and colleagues raise the possibility of applying a standard for competence for juveniles that is based on judgment or future orientation and is higher than the rationality standard for adult criminal defendants. These findings are placed in context by comparing adult and juvenile competencies and by illustrating the remarkable diversity among courts in their approaches to juvenile competence to stand trial. It is doubtful that the juvenile justice system would uniformly adopt a mechanism for finding incompetence based on developmental immaturity or underdeveloped capacity for future orientation.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Competency / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Mental Competency / psychology*