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Prince George County officials accused of inmate assault

Upper Marlboro prosecutors have secured an indictment against two county officials stemming from the alleged assault of a prison inmate. According to reports, a deputy sheriff is being accused of beating an inmate during processing, while the corrections officer took steps to conceal the act.

Both of the officials are being charged with misconduct of office. The deputy sheriff, meanwhile, also will face a second-degree assault charge. One of the alleged perpetrator's criminal defense lawyers hadn't yet seen the evidence and declined to comment.

These charges are disturbing. Certainly, the effectiveness of our governmental institutions hinges upon the public's trust in local officials. Incidents like this do not help foster such trust in government. However, there are always two sides to a story.

Most of us are fortunate enough to go to work and avoid physically contentious environments. Some jobs, nonetheless, do put employees in situations where the chance of a physical altercation is increased. This increased risk of physical altercations, in turn, also increases the risk of criminal charges and criminal penalties.

While the unnecessary use of force is contemptible, sometimes incidents require the use of force. Explaining that to a prosecutor, however, can be challenging. This is why those accused of assault should always consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in order to understand their options.

This knowledge and expertise is critical. It can be used to leverage plea negotiations and defend against meritless charges. Without such help, a person's justifiable use of force risks being misinterpreted as a criminal offense.

Source: The Washington Post, "Pr. George's county sheriff, corrections officer charged in connection with assault on inmate," Oct. 10, 2013

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