(SALEM) - The John and Laura Mahuron case continues to elicit controversy and comment from residents in the county.
Stephanie Taylor Ferriell of the Leader-Democrat reports that the Salem couple allegedly held a graduation party at which alcohol was served to minors and now face charges as a result.
Many people have said they believe the couple should have been arrested at the scene and that they were given "special treatment."
Sheriff Claude Combs said his officers acted appropriately in handling the situation after they received a call reporting the party. Officers tested the teens present for alcohol, then released them to their parents. They completed a report and forwarded that information to Prosecutor Dustin Houchin to reivew and make a decision as far as whether charges should be filed.
Houchin issued this statement last week: "No one in this case has been given preferential treatment. The prosecutor's office and the sher- iff's department work very hard to be fair and consistent. Whether or not someone is arrested at the scene depends on the law, the facts and the officer's discretion. I support and do not interfere with the officer's decision to arrest or not arrest at the scene.
"It is common for officers to not arrest on misdemeanor offenses. In fact, the law prohibits arrest on most misdemeanor offenses. There are a couple of exceptions to this. One is OWI cases. The other is that an arrest may be made where the suspect is disorderly. Neither of those factors was present in this case. In addition, the officers were primarily concerned with the safety of the children.
"In cases where officers do not arrest at the scene, it is my general policy to send a summons, which is what occurred here. The case is in the very beginning stages. If the suspects in any of these cases should go to jail, that will be decided in court, and there is plenty of time for that."
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