Search This Blog

Monday, August 29, 2016

CIVILIAN COURT-MARTIAL DEFENSE LAWYERS: Military Officer Found Not Guilty of All Charges and Specifications in Sexual Assault Court-Martial Trial (UCMJ Article 120 and Article 125)

Military Criminal Defense Lawyer (Former JAG Attorney) News:

Recently, a military officer who faced a general court-martial (GCM) in which he was accused of the sexual assault of an intoxicated acquaintance was found not guilty of all charges and specifications by the military judge at his court-martial trial.  The accused military member was defended by military law attorney Richard V. Stevens (Military Defense Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens, P.C.), and the trial was litigated over 4 days in front of a military judge alone.

The case is described in these news articles and online publications:

The military officer was accused by an acquaintance he had been drinking with in a group of acquaintances.  No one forced any drinks on the complainant, and no one perceived that the complainant was highly intoxicated or not in control of his mental faculties or physical abilities.  The complainant claimed he was too drunk to consent because he supposedly could not remember various events that evening, even though the complainant’s friends, to include a JAG attorney, all witnessed him engage in sexual behavior with the accused that they believed to be completely willing and consensual, which occurred during the claimed blackout.   

As most of these cases do, this case involved numerous motions, experts in forensic psychology, DNA/forensic chemistry, forensic data extraction and analysis, and sexual assault examinations (sexual assault nurse examiner [SANE]), and a complainant who initially refused to interview with the defense.  The case also involved vital information entered into evidence from the complainant's phone, which had to be compelled for defense forensic analysis because investigators did not take it during the investigation and the government initially opposed defense access to the phone.   

During the course of the trial, the defense exposed what we believed to be motives to fabricate or inaccurately remember and significant inconsistencies in the complainant’s story.  This included using the words of the complainant during investigative interviews and a real Article 32 hearing, in which he questioned whether he actually did consent, and he accused another individual of some of the offenses he later attributed to the accused.  The government’s DNA/serology/chemistry expert and SANE expert did not find evidence that was truly consistent with the claim, at most they couldn’t rule it out.  

As with many cases these days, this case involved memory issues due to alcohol consumption, and incorrect factual and legal assumptions based on those memory issues.  Moreover, it included addressing the impact of the military/political environment and sexual assault briefings which lead people to believe they are victims instead of taking responsibility for their own behavior and decisions. 

Ultimately, the defense argued that the case came down to the complainant’s motives and lack of credibility and reliability, to include multiple real possibilities raised by the evidence other than the guilt of the accused.  The judge then returned a verdict of not guilty of all charges and specifications (full acquittal).    

Had there been a conviction in the case, the military accused could have been sentenced to a dismissal (equivalent of dishonorable discharge), decades in prison, forfeitures of all pay and allowances and, in addition, he would have been required to register as a sex offender.  Thankfully, that did not happen and he can hopefully move on from this with a clean slate.

More will follow on this case.  In the meantime, however, 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 Southern Georgia (Robins AFB, Moody AFB, Macon, Warner Robins areas), Northern/Middle 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.

No comments: