Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Proofread those statutes: Omission of single word results in acquittal for criminal defendant

A great lesson for law students about the importance of proofreading.  From the online ABA Journal Blog:

A Virginia man accused of passing a stopped school bus has been acquitted because an amended law dropped the word 'at.'

The law as amended in 1970 requires drivers to stop school buses, rather than to stop at them, the Washington Post reports. The law reads:

'A person is guilty of reckless driving who fails to stop, when approaching from any direction, any school bus which is stopped on any highway, private road or school driveway for the purpose of taking on or discharging children.'

Fairfax County Judge Marcus William explained why he acquitted the defendant, John Mendez, according to the Post account. 'He can only be guilty if he failed to stop any school bus,' Williams said at the end of trial. 'And there's no evidence he did.'

You can read the remainder here via the Washington Post or here the ABA Journal.


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