Being charged with a crime can be one of the most difficult things a person has to go through. Many Virginia residents are under the impression that merely being charged with a crime will have a major negative impact on their lives. However, this is not necessarily true. Many people facing charges have their charges dropped for a variety of reasons. With a dismissed charge, the accused person may be free to go back to their life without a criminal conviction. Two sailors, for example, were facing simple assault charges after a bar fight in Virginia Beach last October. However, the charges were recently dropped by the Virginia Beach Commonwealth's Attorney.
The incident occurred when the two sailors got into a fight with a police officer at The Eagle's Nest. The officer was not charged at the time of the incident. When assault charges were filed against the sailors, they decided to charge the officer with assault. One of the sailors received an additional charge of disturbance of the peace while the other was charged with public intoxication.
The sailors' criminal defense attorney asked that the charges be dropped after a police investigation determined that no one should have been charged in the first place. If the sailors were charged, investigators found that the officer, who was off-duty at the time of the incident, should have been charged as well. The investigation also revealed that one of the sailors was only involved when he tried to help the other sailor, who suffered severe cuts to the head from the officer.
The Commonwealth's Attorney's Office reported that the charges were dropped because neither defendant was willing to waive their Fifth Amendment rights to not testify. Without the men's testimony, the Commonwealth believed they would have a tough time proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt, which is required in criminal cases. With the right defenses in place, and proper scrutiny of the events in question, many cases like these result in criminal charges being dropped altogether.
Source: WAVY, "Charges dropped against sailors in Va. Beach bar fight," Andy Fox, Jan. 12, 2015