There's an adage that many Virginia Beach readers likely have heard. It goes, let the punishment fit the crime. That's a tenet that lawmakers ideally try to follow, but sometimes the laws that result carry what might be considered undue burdens for a defendant even before a trial is held or a conviction obtained.
Take for example the penalties of loss of license that can attach if a person is merely accused of driving under the influence. In cases of alleged domestic violence, Virginia law requires police to arrest someone if a report is made and officers identify a possible aggressor. Sometimes assault charges follow. Sometimes they don't. Nearly always, repercussions result.
This comes to mind in connection with the case of a Virginia Beach city councilman. He was arrested back in October after an apparent confrontation with his wife outside their home. They apparently were arguing in the driveway and court records indicate that a neighbor called police to say that he believed the councilman had struck his wife and knocked her to the ground. He was charged with misdemeanor domestic assault.
Early this week, though, prosecutors dropped the charges. They said that a full investigation of the matter led them to conclude that no assault ever occurred. The move came on the day the man's trial was due to begin. Had he been convicted, he could have been facing up to a year behind bars and a $2,500 fine.
Why it took this long to resolve the matter is unclear. The councilman's wife told reporters back in October that no violence had occurred. She did say that her husband defended himself with a block when she tried to slap him. But she said that her fall and a scraped ankle she suffered resulted because she was wearing 4-inch heels at the time.
In the wake of the dropping of the charges, the couple declared they're happy to have the matter behind them. Virginia Beach's mayor says the councilman remains on the council and is in good standing. In his words, "It's a very regrettable situation that occurred."
Source: The Virginian-Pilot, "Charge against Virginia Beach councilman dropped," Kathy Adams, Dec. 5, 2012