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Tuesday, February 03, 2015

CIVILIAN COURT-MARTIAL DEFENSE LAWYERS: Forcible Sodomy/Sexual Assault Court-Martial Case against Military Officer Dropped by Government Prior to Trial (UCMJ Article 125)

Military Criminal Defense Lawyer (Former JAG Attorney) News:

Recently, a military officer who was facing a general court-martial in which he was accused of forcible sodomy/sexual assault (UCMJ Article 125) and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman (UCMJ Article 133) had his court-martial charges withdrawn and dismissed (dropped) as trial approached, in favor of an administrative disposition.  The accused military member was defended by military law attorney Richard V. Stevens (Military Defense Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens, P.C.). 

The military officer was accused of assaulting a civilian acquaintance during a night of drinking alcohol.  The case had already been through an Article 32 hearing and witness depositions.  Trial was set and was quickly approaching.  As trial approached, the credibility problems of the complainant and her motives to fabricate her story became increasingly clear and when the defense requested production of additional evidence regarding the complainant, she objected vigorously.  The defense believes this evidence would have further eroded her credibility.  At that point, the defense was notified of the government’s decision to drop the court-martial case in favor of an administrative disposition. 

In light of the changes to the military justice system, in which lawmakers are desperate to limit the defense ability to investigate the case and obtain sufficient discovery to defend the accused, one wonders why American lawmakers would favor a system that, for example, may not have uncovered the evidence described above under the newest military justice rules.  Once again, it is clear that lawmakers aren’t interested in the rights of the accused, fairness in the system, or justice – they are just interested in prosecution success.  I wish this message had more traction in the public narrative, and I wish more pressure would be put on lawmakers to honor the Constitution, the rights of an accused, the presumption of innocence, etc. 

Had this case gone to a general court-martial trial as originally intended by the government, the maximum authorized punishment for a court-martial conviction on the allegations in this case would have included significant time in prison, dismissal (a punitive discharge equivalent to dishonorable discharge), total forfeitures of pay and allowances, and sex offender registration would have been required. 

While this military court-martial case was successfully defended, it is important to understand that every case has different facts, and success in previous cases does not guarantee success in any particular future case.  No military lawyer or civilian defense lawyer, including those who specialize in military law, can guarantee the outcome of any military trial or case.

For more information about the military justice system, particularly cases alleging rape and/or sexual assault in violation of UCMJ Article 120, type “rape” or “sexual assault” into the search bar above the blog posts.  Also, see:

We offer free consultations for a case you may be involved in.  Just call us.

Thank you.    

By: Attorney Richard V. Stevens
Civilian criminal defense lawyer and military defense lawyer
Military Defense Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens, P.C.

Blog postscript: Attorney Frank J. Spinner and I (attorney Richard V. Stevens) are former active duty military lawyers (JAG). Our perspectives and advice, therefore, are based upon our experience as military defense lawyers and as civilian criminal defense lawyers practicing exclusively in the area of military law and military justice. This blog addresses issues in military law, military justice, military discipline, military defense, court-martial practice, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and other military and/or legal topics. Nothing posted in this blog should be substituted for legal advice in any particular case. If you seek legal advice for a particular case, please contact The Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens and The Law Office of Frank J. Spinner for a free consultation. These military defense law offices are located in Northern Florida (Pensacola, Ft Walton, Destin, Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field, Duke Field, Panama City, Tyndall AFB areas) and Colorado Springs, Colorado (FT Carson, Peterson AFB, Air Force Academy, Schriever AFB, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Buckley AFB areas), but our military defense law practices are worldwide – we travel to wherever our clients are stationed or serving and need us.

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