Credits to

Issue 11/2019

Abstract. On February 7, a bill was proposed to the Italian Chamber of Deputies (A.C. 1580 – Cantalamessa ed altri)[1] with the aim of modifying the current formulation of art. 97 c.p. by reducing the age limit for culpability from fourteen to twelve years. We believe that discussing such a delicate matter requires the adoption of an integrated approach that may allow to juxtapose criminal law considerations with indications from extrajudicial sciences. We therefore asked a pool of experts of various disciplines (law, criminology, philosophy, semiotics, psychology, psychoanalysis, neurosciences, computational sciences) to share their insights on the culpability of teenagers and pre-teens, starting from the aforementioned bill. We asked the pool a set of questions:
i) from your point of view, do you deem it reasonable to lower the limit for criminal culpability from 14 years (the current limit) to 12? Why?
ii) should the bill be approved, what are, from a scientific perspective, the possible risks or advantages (depending on the previous answer) of it being enacted?
iii) Any suggestion on the matter?
The present document contains a curated synopsis of the answers and insights of our interviewees.


SUMMARY: 1. Presumed age of majority now and in the past. – 2. Variability of teenage maturity and its root causes. – 3. Necessity for a multidimensional approach on the culpability of minors. – 4. Insights from interviewees on the present bill. – 5. Possible alternative solutions and insights from the interviewees on the culpability of minors. – 5.1. Necessity for an integrated methodological approach. – 5.2. In particular: the possible contribution of neurosciences. – 5.3. Development of pre-existing legal instruments.


We wish to express all our gratitude to the following Authors involved in this work for their kind availability and their precious cooperation:

  • Giovanni Berlucchi – Emeritus Professor of Physiology and Psychology at the Department of Neuroscience, Biomedicine and Movement, Verona University
  • Lucio Camaldo – Associate Professor of Criminal Procedural Law at Milan University
  • Antonio Cerasa – Researcher at IBFM – National Research Center (CNR) and Adjunct Professor of Physiological Psychology at the “Magna Graecia” University of Catanzaro
  • Anna Lucchelli – Lawyer of the Milan bar and President of Milan Camera Minorile
  • Alfio Maggiolini – Psychotherapist, Professor of Life Cycle Psychology at Milano-Bicocca University
  • Franco Martelli – Surgeon, specialist in Psychiatry and in Clinical Criminology
  • Alessandro Rudelli – Sociosemiotic, Criminologist Consultant in diagnostic and treatment services of substance-use issues of minors and Honorary Judge of Minors Court of Milan
  • Cristina Saottini –  Psychotherapist, psychoanalyst and Honorary Judge of Minors Court of Milan
  • Chiara Scivoletto – Associate Professor of Legal Sociology, Deviance and Social Change at Parma University
  • Piergiorgio Strata – Emeritus Professor of Neurophysiology at the Department of Neuroscience, Turin University
  • Mario Tantalo – former Associate Professor of Forensic Psychopathology at PaduaUniversity, Physician specialised  in Legal and Insurance Medicine and in Clinical Criminology


In the Interviews section, the full version of the following Authors’ contribution is also available; you can reead their speeches by clicking on the links below:


To read the Reflection, click on “open file”.


[1] Cfr. the text of the draft law entitled “Modifiche al codice penale e alle disposizioni sul processo penale a carico di imputati minorenni, di cui al decreto del Presidente della Repubblica 22 settembre 1988, n. 448, in materia di imputabilità dei minori e di pene applicabili a essi nel caso di partecipazione ad associazione mafiosa” (1580)


A meeting of knowledge on individual and society
to bring out the unexpected and the unspoken in criminal law


ISSN 2612-677X (website)
ISSN 2704-6516 (journal)


The Journal does not impose any article processing charges (APC) or submission charges