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Alright, this is the third time I'm going to try to write this OP and have it make sense.
At what point should someone involve the authorities when dealing with a minor crime.
Just to throw out some possible examples: A child breaks your window by accident, should you call the police or their parents? A friend breaks something of yours during a party. Do you charge them with vandalism or make them pay for what they broke/forgive them. An employee is caught stealing for his employer. Should he be arrested or just made to pay back what he stole and fired. All of these examples people deal with the crime themselves, rather than involving the authorities.
Some people would argue that involving the police in petty crimes is a waste of resources. It also ends up involving otherwise law abiding people with the criminal justice system, which can have some fairly negative consequences.
But where is the line drawn?
Is it based on age where minors should be excused? Well minors can still commit fairly heinous crimes that should definitely involve the police (murder, rape, etc.)
Is it intent? Should we just write off accidents as accidents? You still call the police if someone hits you with their car, even if its an accident.
Monetary value? What about crimes that don't have a money figure easily attached that can be paid or worked back.
If retribution involves committing another crime? Obviously we can't have vigilante or street justice happening en masse. The authorities must be brought in at some point. But there does tend to be sympathy for those who commit crimes in retribution. People who kill or injure those who are guilty of killing or raping a family member are given quite a bit of sympathy by the media and the public.