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Mother convicted for hitting son's drug dealer

A jury recently convicted a mother who hit a man who she believed to be her son's heroin dealer. She was charged with and convicted of a third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, which means she could face heavy fines and time in jail when she is sentenced later this year.

The incident occurred after she followed her son to the man's house and watched him remove an object from his car that appeared to be about the size of half of a brick. That was when she grabbed the bat and "bopped" him on the arm twice.

This is an interesting case because the mother's conduct walks the line between taking the law into her own hands (as prosecutors alleged) and simple defense of third parties, which she is entitled to if she reasonably believes that her son was threatened with serious physical harm. This may or may not apply, depending largely on what the woman thought the object was that the man was holding.

The right to defense of a third party allows use of reasonable force, and in this case the mother did not actually cause a documented injury to the alleged drug dealer. In fact, the man who she struck with the bat was relatively unaffected by the incident and testified that he did not seek medical attention. He was also unable to identify the woman in court, suggesting that the experience was not particularly damaging on an emotional level either.

What do you think - was this mother acting reasonably to protect her son? Or was her conduct unacceptable to the point that she should be put behind bars?

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Mom Convicted of Beating Heroin Dealer," Joe Harris, April 25, 2013.

Information about sentencing in Illinois for assault and other crimes can be found on our website.

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