The Korea Herald


3% of teens convicted of major crimes punished under Criminal Act: data

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : Aug. 16, 2023 - 15:47

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Only about three percent of those classified as "criminal youth" who committed any of the five major violent crimes -- murder, robbery, rape, indecent assault and special violence -- were found to have been punished under the Criminal Act, while the majority of them received mild correctional measures, the data showed Wednesday.

Juvenile offenders between the ages of 14 and 18 are designated as "criminal youth."

Out of 18,084 juvenile cases sent to trial for the five major violent crimes between 2017 to 2022, only 567 cases, 3.1 percent, were punished under the Criminal Act, according to Supreme Court data released on the request by Rep. Kang Min-kuk from the ruling People Power Party. The remaining 17,517 cases, 96.9 percent, were treated under the Juvenile Act.

Judges can choose whether to apply either the Criminal Act or Juvenile Act in the case of teenage offenders aged 14 to 18. The Juvenile Act not only imposes lighter punishment but also does not leave a criminal record.

Some 17.9 percent of robberies, 6.5 percent of rape cases and 1.4 percent of indecent assault cases perpetrated by teenagers were punished under the Criminal Act.

For teenage offenders charged with murder, 23 out of 42 cases, 54.8 percent, were subject to criminal punishment, showing a relatively high portion of heavier punishments. But the figure showed that about a half of teens charged with murder were treated under the Juvenile Act, leaving no criminal record.

"There are many concerns that the Juvenile Act is actually used as a route to exempt young felons from criminal punishment," said Rep. Kang. "It could ignore a victim's pain and goes against the public's desire for fairness," he argued.