Ethical Dilemma: Would You Turn In a Loved One Who Has Committed a Crime?

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We’ve had several “ethical dilemma” posts here on The Daily Mind, and we hope you find them as thought-provoking as we do.

While we haven’t done them on a regular basis, here’s one for the week.

The good son

Your teenage son can be described as a “good boy”. He does well in school. He has a group of friends all of whom you know. He does get into harmless mischief now and then (boys will be boys), but he is obedient and has a good heart.

One night, he gets mixed up with the wrong sort and has too much to drink. Due to peer pressure, he drives home under the influence of alcohol, which on its own is a punishable offense. On the way, he hits a pedestrian on a late-night jog. Your son panics, and since there is no one around to see what happened, he drives away, straight home.

He tells you what happened. Now, what do you do?

ethical dilemma

You have three options.

1. Do you decide to turn him in, have him face the consequences of his actions, and immediately get hold of a criminal lawyer?

2. Do you decide to think things over? Maybe find out more details, like who the victim as and how he/she fared? If he/she was not hurt too badly, would you try to settle out of court?

3. Do you decide to forget it ever happened? After all, your son has always been a decent kid. This one mistake should not compromise his future in any way. No one saw what happened that night. No one else needs to know what happened. It will be a secret everyone in the family will take to the grave.

You’ll notice that in providing those three options above, we didn’t take into consideration what your son has to say about the whole thing.

Now, considering that he is at the center of the whole thing, let’s take a look at two situations.

1. He wants to face the music and turn himself in. What do you do then? Will you try to convince him otherwise? Will you give him a pat on the back for doing a difficult thing?

2. He wants you to keep everything a secret. What do you do? Will you convince him to “do the right thing” and take responsibility for his actions? Will you agree with him, and keep your mouth shut?

Your turn!

The details may very well be different, but the bottomline is that a close family member has committed a crime. What would you do?

We’re interested in your thoughts. Share them with us in the comments!

Note: Needless to say, this is a hypothetical situation. Any similarities to any individual or real-life scenario are purely coincidental.

Other ethical dilemma posts:
Would You Say Something?
If Your Neighbor Has Domestic Violence Problems, Would You Report It?

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4 thoughts on “Ethical Dilemma: Would You Turn In a Loved One Who Has Committed a Crime?

  1. Wow! None of the above.

    The only thing I can think about is getting medical help for the pedestrian ASAP.

  2. The scenario you pose is far more complex than the bottom line question, “a close family member has committed a crime. What would you do?”

    So, in this scenario an innocent person got hurt because the kid screwed up. It wasn’t an intentional or malicious act, but there is still a duty to the victim. The kid, and therefore the parents, have to make amends. And that holds even if it hadn’t been a crime.

    But to simplify and bring it around to your bottom line, let’s try out another scenario. The kid wrecks the car, but doesn’t hit a person and doesn’t cause damage to anyone else’s property. His crimes are drunk driving as a minor, and fleeing the scene.

    So, still some serious charges involved and, depending on where this happened, the consequences could be devastating for the child, but no one else has been harmed. Then you impose consequences internally as a family rather than turning your child in.

    That’s on face value. There are still many variables. Can it still come back to haunt them legally? Is this the kind of kid that will not learn from the experience if you don’t turn them in? And we haven’t even touched on the difference between ” a close family member” and one’s own minor child, and all of the responsibilities that differ there. 🙂

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