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Norfolk, Virginia, city attorney charged with DUI

The Norfolk, Virginia top city attorney is facing drunk driving charges after he was stopped and arrested by a Virginia state trooper at about 8:30 p.m. The defendant was also charged with a firearms infraction and stated that he planned to contest the pending charges.

The trooper claimed that the motorist drove through a work zone while exiting onto Brambleton Avenue from Interstate Highway 264. The trooper sopped his Toyota 4 Runner vehicle, along with two other cars he claimed also went through the work area.

The trooper's report asserts that he smelled alcohol on the defendant's breath, and the man stumbled, stated he had been drinking, and exhibited slurred speech. He declined to submit to a blood or breath test, according to the trooper. The trooper transported the defendant in order to book him in Virginia Beach, since the prosecutors in Northfolk work under the defendant's supervision. This was to avoid a conflict of interest.

Once booked, the 58-year-old driver was released on a bond unsecured by collateral. His behavior was characterized as cooperative.

For a city attorney to face DUI charges can be highly embarrassing and well-publicized. In any criminal proceeding with a lot of publicity, an important role of criminal defense attorney is making sure that the publicity does not taint the trial. In addition, the attorney ensures that a jury is selected that is free of bias from reading news accounts that may have introduced unsubstantiated "facts" or speculation.

Charges are not "proof," and in the U.S., anyone accused of a crime is entitled to a presumption of innocence. The prosecutor is compelled to meet a heavy burden of trying to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant's guilt on the specifics of the charges by admissible and reliable evidence.

Source: PilotOnline, "Norfolk commonwealth's attorney charged with DUI" Cindy Clayton and Patrick Wilson, Oct. 26, 2013

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