This research investigated situations involving the police and public citizens in which both committed offenses and were punished. Participants responded to either a scenario describing police violence against a "green" protester (n = 177) or one describing dangerous driving by detectives leading to injury of juveniles in a car chase (n = 149). Results showed that information about following orders mitigated participants' reactions to offenses committed by authority figures. The perceived seriousness of the offenses committed by police authorities was negatively related to participants' level of right-wing authoritarianism and positively related to the importance participants assigned to universalism values. These relations were opposite in direction for the public offenders who refused to obey a police order. Other relations supported a social-cognitive process model in which values, responsibility, seriousness, and deservingness are key variables.