One of the important functions of the legal aid service is the protection of the rights of the juveniles. According to the legislation of Georgia, a juvenile is a person who has not reached the age of 19. Our legislation envisages the liability of the juvenile but it is restricted by age. For example, a juvenile shall be liable for administrative violation only if by the time of the commission of the administrative offence he/she was at least 16. Below that age he/she shall bear no liability. Minimal age for criminal liability is 14 years.
In the framework of the protection of the rights of the juveniles the Legal Aid Service offers following services:
- Protection of the rights of the juvenile defendants/convicts/acquitted persons or victims in any stage of criminal procedure;
- Free legal aid provided to the witness in case of insolvency;
- Protection of the rights of the juveniles charged with administrative offences in cases envisaged by juvenile justice code.
Any person involved in the exercise of juvenile justice such as judge, prosecutor, investigator, police officer, lawyer, social worker, mediator, etc. should be specially trained in the area of juvenile justice. If in a case involving a juvenile, procedural actions were taken by a person without such special training, he/she should immediately notify to the specialized person who should take over the proceedings.
Legislation envisages the exemption from the criminal liability of the juvenile, also exemption from the sentence, namely:
A person shall be released from criminal liability for a crime committed during his/her minority if:
- 1 year has passed after committing the crime, for which the maximum sentence does not exceed two years of imprisonment as provided for by the relevant article or paragraph of the article of special part of the Criminal Code of Georgia;
- 3 years have passed after committing any other minor crime;
- 5 years have passed after committing a serious crime;
- 12 years have passed after committing a particularly serious crime.
A convicted minor shall be released from the sentence if the final judgement of conviction has not been enforced:
- Within 1 year, in the case where the minor is convicted of a crime for which the maximum sentence does not exceed two years of imprisonment as provided for by the relevant article or paragraph of the article of the special part of the Criminal Code of Georgia;
- Within 3 years, in the case where the minor is convicted for any other minor crime;
- Within 5 years, in the case where the minor is convicted of a serious crime;
- Within 7 years, in the case where the minor is convicted of a particularly serious crime;
In case if juvenile has committed grave or less grave crime, in the first place the possibility of application of diversion shall be examined. Diversion is a form of exemption from criminal liability, the goal of which is the proper development of juvenile and his/her integration in the community, prevention of new crime.
The pre-trial preventive measures that may be imposed on an accused minor are:
- Transfer of the minor for supervision;
- An agreement on not leaving the place of supervision, and on good behaviour therein;
- Personal guarantee;
Types of sentences for the juvenile are following:
- Fine – monetary payment, which shall be imposed only in case if the juvenile has independent source of income from a lawful activity. In case of the imposition of the fine, the minimal amount determined by the code shall be halved;
- House arrest – implies the obligation upon a minor to stay at the place of his/her residence during specified times of the day and night. House arrest shall be imposed on a minor for a period of 6 months to 1 year;
- Deprivation of the right to conduct specific activity – from 1 to 3 year period;
- Community service – from 40 to 300 hours. Daily duration of such service shall not exceed 4 hours;
- Restriction of freedom – maximum period is 3 years;
- Fixed-term imprisonment - may be imposed on a minor if he/she has committed a serious or a particularly serious crime, if he/she has avoided serving a non-custodial sentence, and/or a judgment of conviction has been delivered against him/her in the past. For minors aged between 14 and 16, the imposed sentence shall be reduced by one third. In addition, the final sentence shall not exceed 10 years. For minors aged between 16 and 18, the imposed sentence shall be reduced by one fourth. In addition, the final sentence shall not exceed 12 years.
In case of existence of special conditions, the court may hold that the imposed sentence be considered as conditional. Namely, if a minor, who has no previous convictions for intentional crimes, has committed a less serious or serious crime.
Criminal case involving juvenile defendant may not be heard by jury trial.
There is a Permanent Group of Lawyers specializing in Juvenile Justice operating within the Legal Aid Office, which will provide legal aid to minors immediately upon request, within shortest period of time provided by the law.
- Constitution of Georgia
- European Convention of Human Rights and Freedoms
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
- Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Additional Protocol for Child Convention regarding “Notification Procedures”
- UN guiding principles related to the Juvenile Delinquency (Riad Principles)
- UN Minimal Standard Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (Beijing Rules).
- Criminal Code of Georgia
- Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia
- Juvenile Justice Code
- Law of Georgia on the Bar
- Government Decree N. 424 on the “Approval of the Procedure for the Determination of Insolvency of the Person”
- Decision N. 20 of the Legal Aid Board on the Approval of the Regulation of Lega Aid
- Decision of the Legal Aid Board N. 27 on the “Approval of Criteria for Legal Aid as stipulated under Art. 5 (3) of the Law on Legal Aid”.
- Professional Code of Ethics of Lawyers.
Scope of Service