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Crown prosecutors drop charges after review of evidence

Drinking and driving is against the law in Ontario, but only when a driver's blood alcohol content exceeds a specific level. If the driver's blood alcohol level is over 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres, he or she could be facing serious criminal charges and punishment. When the driver is a public figure such as Jonas Valanciunas of the Toronto Raptors, a criminal charge can also seriously damage a driver's reputation.

Just because someone is charged with a crime, however, does not mean that he or she committed it. Instead, Crown prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused has committed a criminal act. If there is little chance that the Crown will win its case, the charges against the accused will be dismissed. Yet even when charges are dropped, there remains the risk of punishment.

Take Valanciunas and his recent arrest for driving over 80. He was stopped in April after he supposedly went through a drive-thru with a few open beer bottles in his vehicle. His charges were just dropped, however, after it was clear that the Crown did not have a good case. That doesn't mean that Valanciunas is off the hook.

Instead, he may face discipline from the NBA or the Raptors.

Ultimately, individuals should not be arrested or charged with a crime if there is not substantial evidence that they have committed some sort of crime. As with Valanciunas, even when charges are dropped, the formerly accused may have to deal with some sort of disciplinary measures.

Source: The Toronto Star, "Drunk driving charge dropped against Raptors' Jonas Valanciunas," Paul Clarke, July 15, 2014

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