In the American justice system, every defendant is innocent until proven guilty. There is a high burden of proof required to deprive someone of their freedom. What is more, without enough evidence, a criminal case cannot even be prosecuted.
In a recent Virginia Beach case, charges against two men were dropped due to a lack of evidence. Earlier in the year, a man was driving down Princess Anne Road when he stopped to remove a traffic barrel from his path. After he got out of his vehicle, he was allegedly beaten and robbed by two men.
Two suspects were arrested about a week after the incident. However, the victim could not pick these suspects out of a photo lineup. There was very little evidence linking the two suspects to the incident.
In the third week of August, charges against the two suspects were officially dropped. The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office said that they simply did not have enough evidence to proceed. Even the victim expressed approval at the outcome, telling WTKR news that while he was disappointed, he "would rather be 100 percent sure that those were the two individuals that jumped me."
This case is a good example of the broad principle that our courts would rather err on the side of caution than risk locking up someone who may be innocent. If you have been accused of committing a crime, suspicion is not enough to impose a punishment. The government must prove its case using evidence, and you have a right to defend yourself.
Source: WTKR, "Charges dropped against men arrested for beating Virginia Beach man who stopped to move traffic barrels," Erica Greenway, Aug. 19, 2014