That the wheels of justice turn slowly is no secret. Those of us who work in the legal system, whether in Virginia or elsewhere, know well that the process can be slow. The notion of swift justice is sometimes more of a concept than reality.
There is no doubting, though, that the legal processes can be scary for those who get swept up in them. That can be especially true for minors who may never had 0encounters with law enforcement before. Their whole lives can be shaken by something as seemingly innocuous as a minor in possession of alcohol charge.
That appears to have been the impact on a 20-year-old University of Virginia student. She says that what started with the purchase of some sparkling water and treats for a fundraising effort led to months of uncertainty over whether she would face felony charges. She lost sleep over the situation. Her studies suffered and she worried about her future as she waited to see what would happen.
It started on the night of April 11, when the woman and two sorority sisters were confronted by Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control agents. Officials said they suspected the women of being underage purchasers of beer and confronted them in a store parking lot. In all, some six agents, all out of uniform, were involved.
According to the police report, the plainclothes officers approached the women. One female officer showed her badge and issued orders to the women. The report indicates that the women didn't comply and that that is when the other officers appeared. One of them reportedly drew a gun.
The report says the women drove off, slightly striking two officers. They were stopped minutes later by a squad under lights and siren and the report says the women apologized repeatedly.
The women's side of the story is that they acted out of fear. They say they panicked at being confronted by armed individuals with unidentifiable badges.
The driver of the car spent a night and part of the next day in jail. And until prosecutors acted late last month, she had the threat of felony charges hanging over her. The charges have now been dropped.
The young woman says she's grateful it's all over. But there are some who say it has come at a price she would never have incurred if authorities had not acted as they did.
Source: NPR.org, "Felony Arrest Of Student Who Bought Water Riles Many In Virginia," Bill Chappell, July 2, 2013