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Charges dropped against 5 people after witness changes her story

Many times, the key element of a prosecutor’s case is witness testimony. Although it may be hard to understand how someone’s word or expert opinion is enough for conviction, Los Angeles residents have likely heard of cases where just that has happened.

In a recent case, four men and one woman from California were charged with human trafficking. According to reports, the charges stemmed from the testimony of an 18-year-old woman who told police the group kidnapped her from Compton in August. She claimed the five people took her to Moreno Valley and made her work as a prostitute. 

But during a preliminary hearing in Riverside County court, the woman’s story quickly changed. The 18-year-old reportedly testified that she left with the five individuals by her own free will. The woman, who works as a prostitute, said she lied because she feared her Los Angeles-based pimp’s reaction.

The change in testimony led prosecutors to dismiss the charges against the woman and four men. The Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking task force, as well as the prosecutor, apparently doubted the woman’s credibility.

There are many laws that protect the accused, such as the constitutional right to face their accuser and dispute their testimony. Some people say that criminals always claim they are innocent, but in some cases, that is exactly the truth. Anyone accused of crimes can benefit from the experience of a criminal defense attorney who understands that until proven otherwise, an individual is considered innocent in the eyes of the law.  

Source: CBS Los Angeles, “Riverside DA Dismisses Human Trafficking Charge Against 5,” Sept. 5, 2013

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