CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, February 14, 2005

Vigilantes and Child Molesters

Does it seem that people who shoot child molesters seem to be more likely than other offenders to be acquitted, not indicted or get a light sentence? Here's a case from Australia where the defendant was acquitted, a case from Kentucky where the grand jury refused to indict, a California case where the defendant served 3 years for manslaughter, a Maryland case where the defendant got home detention for a nonfatal but evidently premeditated shooting.  On the other hand, here are some guys who got prison for branding the genitals of a molester.  An Ohio woman who committed a breaking-and-entering in an unsuccessful search for her daughter's molester was caught after 23 years on the lam (she had been arrested in the 1990s, but gave a false name, and was released.)  There are of course many examples of misguided vigilantes, including some who confused a "pediatrician" with a "pedophile."  Here's an article from the Palm Beach Post about the difficulty of convicting people who claim to be crime victims, or that they were attacking criminal. 

Doesn't this show that motive (as opposed to intent in the elemental sense) matters?  Surely a punch in the face to a child molester should be punished differently than a punch meant to be the prelude to a rape or killing. [Jack Chin]

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