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State v. Wilder
Maine Supreme Judicial Court
748 A.2d 444 (2000)
Lawrence Wilder (defendant) was divorced from the mother of his nine-year-old son. While the son was visiting Wilder, Wilder became upset that his son was talking too much. In response, Wilder grabbed the son’s shoulder and squeezed hard, possibly leaving a bruise. The same thing happened a few days later, with Wilder squeezing his son hard in the same spot and possibly leaving a bruise. On a separate day, the son was talking to Wilder about a movie when Wilder decided that his son was exaggerating. Wilder put his hand over his son’s mouth and grabbed hard, telling his son to shut up and leaving finger and thumb bruises on the son’s face. When the son returned to his mother’s custody, his mother reported the incidents to law enforcement. Wilder was charged with three counts of assault. Wilder claimed that the parental-control justification provided a complete defense for his actions. The parental-control justification was a statutory criminal defense that allowed parents and other caregivers to use a reasonable degree of force to prevent or punish a child’s misconduct. The trial court found that the son’s excessive talking and possible exaggeration were not misconduct, which meant that the parental-control justification did not apply. The court then found Wilder guilty of all three assault counts. Wilder appealed his conviction.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Alexander, J.)
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