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Judge releases protesters after cases head to court

When you damage public property, there's a chance you could be taken to court. If federal or state charges are filed against you, you could face high fines and a prison sentence in the worst case scenario.

Fortunately, there must be evidence that you committed the crime you're accused of. If it's difficult to confirm that it's you in a video or participating in a riot or protest, then the prosecution may not have a strong enough case to win at court.

A recent court case highlights this possibility. Although this trial did not take place in Virginia, this case has become part of an important national discussion. During a round of protests, several people tore down a monument in Durham. Normally, destroying public or governmental property is a federal crime.

In this case, a judge in North Carolina took it easy on the protesters. The judge found one not guilty of knocking over the statue and dismissed the cases against the other two protesters. Five others still face pending charges and may go to trial in summer of 2018.

The judge determined that the man in court in front of him was not guilty for three counts against him. They included conspiracy and damaging a public monument.

The two other defendants had their cases dismissed as a result of a strong defense by their attorneys. Their attorneys showed that the authorities couldn't identify them properly as people who took part in bringing down the Confederate statue.

If you are charged, remember that a strong defense can make a difference. Protect yourself and your reputation. Some people just end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Source: U.S. News Best States, "The Latest: 3rd Person Avoids Conviction in Statue Toppling," Feb. 19, 2018

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