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Cherryville, North Carolina police scandal leads to dismissal of charges

Several people have lost their jobs, and a new City Manager has been installed in Cherryville, North Carolina following a scandal involving law enforcement in the city. Federal officials accuse three police officers of corruption after an investigation unveiled evidence that the officers allegedly protected trucks full of stolen goods. Agents from the FBI claim that three officers accepted money to provide the truckers with protection in Gaston County.

Criminal defense lawyers know that allegations in the media, as well as the claims in a police report do not provide proof of criminal activity. Our system of justice puts the burden of proof upon the government, but proof must be made in a court of law. Therein lies the rub in the Gaston County allegations.

Dueling issues have arisen from the scandal. The officers remain innocent of the corruption charges until proven guilty in a federal court. At the same time, Gaston County officials will dismiss numerous criminal cases due to the alleged involvement of the officers in the corruption allegations.

As a society, we look to law enforcement to protect and to serve. But at the same time, criminal defense lawyers stand as sentries in court to protect against an over-reaching government.

Gaston County prosecutors will reportedly be voluntarily dismissing 59 charges in the aftermath of the corruption probe. The cases all rely on the testimony of the officers accused of corruption. Among the overall cases, prosecutors reportedly will be dismissing eight drunk driving cases. Additional drug cases, traffic violations and other types of charges will be dropped. Each of those cases presumably involve police reports.

The plain language of the police reports is called into question. Allegations in any police report, however, is subject to challenge. Greenville DWI defense lawyers, like criminal defense lawyers all across the country, protect individual rights by testing the evidence in court produced by the state to help avoid wrongful convictions.

Source: WBTV, "Cherryville names new City Manager weeks after police scandal," Jessica Sells, Nov. 7, 2012

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