take the law into your own hands

take the law into (one's) own hands

To act outside the scope of the law to achieve one's own sense of justice, typically by killing, punishing, or passing judgment on wrongdoers. Shopkeepers in the area have begun taking the law into their own hands, arming themselves with guns to fend off would-be thieves. I know you're frustrated by how long it's taken the police to respond, but you can't just take the law into your own hands.
See also: hand, law, own, take

take the law into your own hands

COMMON If you take the law into your own hands, you punish someone who you believe has done something wrong yourself instead of waiting for someone in authority to do it. Ordinary people have decided to take the law into their own hands, faced with what they see as the inability of the police to control a crime wave in the region. He took the law into his own hands when his mother was mugged. He went out and attacked the man with a baseball bat.
See also: hand, law, own, take

take the law into your own hands

punish someone for an offence according to your own ideas of justice, especially in an illegal or violent way.
See also: hand, law, own, take

take the law into your own ˈhands

take action personally against somebody who has broken the law or done something wrong, instead of calling the police: I knew who had stolen my car, so I took the law into my own hands. I went to his house and beat him up. The police arrested both of us!
See also: hand, law, own, take
References in periodicals archive ?
Judge Charles James said: "It is a serious criminal offence to try and take the law into your own hands.
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