Parties involving young people and alcohol can quickly get out of hand in Michigan. In the current #metoo environment, charges of sexual assault are frequently reported. While sexual assault is a severe violation of criminal law, one must remember that a person is still presumed to be innocent and in order to find a person guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, prosecutors must produce significant proof of each element of the crime charged.

In a recent party in a home in Alpena two teenaged girls claimed they had been assaulted at a party where drugs and alcohol were said to be present. The girls named three young men as their assailants. The girls claimed they were drugged and then assaulted though one girl had no recollection of the actual attack. She claims that she woke up in a bed next to one of the accused assailants and was not wearing underwear.

The three young men accused are current or past high school athletes and neighbors describe them as good kids. Two of the three are facing charges in the alleged attacks and the third is not being charged. One of the three took a plea deal in exchange for testimony against the man who allegedly drugged the girl’s drinks. The prosecution is facing a challenge in that case due to a lack of physical evidence. There were no drugs found in the alleged victims or in the home where the party was held.

In Michigan and all other states, sexual assault is a serious violation of criminal law. No one wants to see a guilty party go unpunished, but for a person to be convicted there must be competent evidence that proves a person’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Every accused individual has important legal rights that must be protected at all stages of the proceedings, and the rules of evidence must also be adhered to in order to prevent innocent people from being convicted of crimes they did not commit.