When a person is brought to court on criminal charges, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. In order to reach a conviction, prosecutors must demonstrate a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Put simply, a person is considered innocent until proven otherwise.
Of course, law enforcement official may push criminal charges and launch an aggressive prosecution, even when there isn't sufficient evidence. Why would such a serious effort be made in this scenario? This is the exact question some people are likely asking after a Georgia sheriff was cleared of several fraud charges.
According to reports, the sheriff of Clayton County was originally charged with 27 felony counts related to abusing the power of his office. Even before the trial began, the court dropped two of the criminal counts, yet the remaining charges were still quite steep. In the end, the man was absolved of all the charges, as the jury found him not guilty of racketeering, theft, making false statements and other felonies.
In response to the jury's decision, a representative for the sheriff indicated that the charges were likely politically motivated. Whatever the reason prosecutors pursued these charges so seriously, the man could have been sentenced to more than 450 years behind bars. Thankfully, the man will be able to resume his role as sheriff.
Ultimately, the prosecution did not have enough evidence to receive a conviction. A member of the jury noted that this was the main reason they acquitted the public figure on all counts. Carefully examining and scrutinizing the evidence presented by prosecutors can be a solid way to discover worrisome holes in the evidence, which can pave the way to a fair ruling.
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Victor Hill not guilty; will remain Clayton Sheriff," Rhonda Cook, Aug. 15, 2013