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Prince William drops loitering charges against Hispanics

The Prince William County’s commonwealth’s attorney has withdrawn charges against a group of Hispanic men who were cited for loitering in front of their own apartment building.

The ACLU, which represented the men, claimed victory .

"This is the second time that this county, after making mass-arrests of apparent day laborers under its facially unconstitutional loitering statute, and after having been confronted with a constitutional challenge to that ordinance, has simply decided to back down and dismiss the charges rather than defend the ordinance," said Manassas attorney Daniel Voss, who is working with the ACLU on the case.  "Given that, it would be hard to conceive of any continued enforcement as anything other than bad faith."

Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert does not concede the constitutionality of the loitering ordinance, however.  He told the Associated Press the ordinance requires police to give offenders a warning before an arrest.  The charges were dropped, he said, because the warning did not occur in this case.

By Peter Vieth

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