It is often easy for the authorities to select an individual with a prior record and tag him or her with perpetration of a crime without substantial evidence to back it up. This kind of criminal justice travesty can occur in Virginia or any other jurisdiction. A person with a prior record may be most vulnerable to being charged with alleged sex crimes or other crimes where identification may under the circumstances be difficult to pinpoint.
These issues seem to be emerging in the arrest of a Virginia man on allegations that he raped a College of William and Mary student last year. The case is beginning to take on frustrating indications of injustice due to a recent forensic report that the 50-year-old man's DNA did not appear anywhere on the victim's clothes or body. The forensic expert recently testified in court that the report eliminated the suspect as a possible source of DNA traces that were found on the victim.
Despite that testimony, a Circuit Court judge recently denied bail, despite the man's incarceration for the past eight months on the unproved charges. The court cited the man's extensive record and his violation of a prior probation. The man's attorney pointed out that the violation consisted of failing to pay a fine. Nonetheless, the accused remains in jail where he cannot resume his prior work as a landscaper.
Despite defense counsel's impassioned plea that the accused was not a flight risk, the court has decided that the facts require him to employ an excess of caution. Apparently, the defendant's admission to prior consensual contact with the woman has played into the court's decision, based on the prosecution's argument that the admission is some proof of guilt of the charged sex crimes. Counsel must always be vigilant in reminding the courts of the fundamental right to bail and our dedication to the principle of innocent until proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Source: vagazette.com, "Man accused of W&M student rape pleads not guilty", Savannah Williams, July 11, 2017