Joined: 18 January 2006
The functionality of law is very challenging. The problem we come across is the law is that there are many grey areas and loopholes. Laws designed to protect and preserve rights of innocent people can be exploited for criminals to get away.
There was a time when people especially minorities were illegally searched and harassed by police officers. Lawmakers would use their right to search as a means to intimidate and harass. Hence the requirement of procedurally acquired search warrant. Now the search warrant requirement can inhibit investigation making it impossible to get warrants on educated guesses and hunches or circumstantial evidence.
So now we have instances where certain evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that a person is a criminal. However, that crucial evidence gets inadmissible because of a loophole and the criminal walks free because that was the only conclusive evidence but was inadmissible in trial. Should we disregard or overrule such procedural evidence rules then we take away crucial rights of the ordinary person.
It's a Catch-22 – Disregard civilian rights for convicting a criminal, let a criminal go in order to protect civilian rights.
Does the loophole of laws make vigilante justice morally permissible? Can we allow vigilante justices to disregard procedural law as long as the bad guy is punished?
Vigilante justice when allowed can be taken to extremes. Several cities now have watchdog groups that monitor sex offenders especially child sex offenders. They will have volunteers who literally stalk offenders. On one hand the logic is sound. The person committed a crime and they can do it again. Especially when it comes to minors people have a right to protect the interests of children. However, it is not always clear cut.
There have been situations where say a guy X in high school has consensual sex with his girlfriend female Y. Happens that X is 19 while Y was 16. Y's father presses statutory rape charges and he is convicted. Since he was an adult convicted of a sex crime against a minor, he is automatically registered as a child sex offender. Vigilante watchdog groups are not concerned with such details. Now even when X is done serving his small sentence and living life as an honest citizen there will be citizen groups who treat him as a hardened criminal or child molester, when he was just an ordinary teen who got in trouble due to a technical aspect of law.
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