Simple English definitions for legal terms


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A quick definition of Vigilantism:

Term: Vigilantism

Definition: Vigilantism is when someone takes the law into their own hands and punishes someone they believe has committed a crime, without going through the proper legal channels. This is not allowed and can be dangerous because it can lead to violence and innocent people being hurt. It is important to let the police and courts handle criminal cases to ensure fairness and safety for everyone.

A more thorough explanation:


Vigilantism is when individuals or groups take the law into their own hands and act as law enforcement without legal authority. This can include punishing people they believe have committed a crime or enforcing their own version of justice.

  • In some parts of the world, people form vigilante groups to fight against crime and corruption. For example, in Mexico, some communities have formed vigilante groups to protect themselves from drug cartels.
  • In the United States, there have been cases of individuals taking the law into their own hands, such as the case of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin in 2012. Zimmerman claimed self-defense, but many people saw his actions as vigilantism.

These examples illustrate how vigilantism can lead to dangerous situations and undermine the rule of law. While people may feel justified in taking action against criminals or perceived wrongdoers, it is important to remember that only authorized law enforcement officials have the legal authority to enforce the law.

Vigilante justice | Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty (1926)


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