House Armed Services Committee Responds to Military Sexual Assault

Share Article

Military Justice Attorney, Sean Dunn, comments on proposed changes to the military justice system.

Several of the proposed changes are significant departures from the current and historical court-martial laws.

Last Wednesday, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel took significant steps in response to a rise in sexual assaults in the military. Wrapped into the larger proposed Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Bill are a series of proposed changes to the Military Justice System and laws on sexual assault in the military.

The proposed changes include:

  •     Prohibiting command authorities from dismissing a finding by a court martial, with an exception for minor offenses.
  •     Prohibiting command authorities from reducing a guilty finding by a court martial, to guilty of a lesser offense.
  •     Prohibiting reduction below mandatory minimum sentence, unless accused provided substantial investigative or prosecution assistance.
  •     Elimination of the 5-year statute of limitations on Trial by Court Martial for additional offenses involving the crimes of sexual assault and sexual assault of a child.
  •     Establishing dismissal or dishonorable discharge as the mandatory minimum sentence for convictions of rape, sexual assault, forcible sodomy, or an attempt to commit those offenses.
  •     Requiring appointment of Victim’s Counsel, qualified and specially trained military lawyers, to provide legal assistance to victims of sex-related offenses.

Click here for the complete list and text of the proposed changes.

“Several of the proposed changes are significant departures from the current and historical court-martial laws” said Sean Dunn, a Carlsbad, California based Military Law attorney. “For example, under current and long standing UCMJ Article 43, most military sexual offenses not involving victims under 16 years old are subject to a 5-year statute of limitations. However, rape, rape of a child and murder have no statute of limitations under the current law” said Mr. Dunn. “Compared to Federal criminal law, many child related sex offenses have a 25-year statute of limitations, and most non child related sex offenses are subject to a 5-year statute of limitations similar to that currently found in the military.”

“Under current Article 60 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Congress granted military court martial convening authorities, as a matter of command prerogative and at their sole discretion, the authority to modify – reduce or dismiss – any court martial conviction or sentence” said Mr. Dunn.

“Another significant departure from the current military justice system is the proposed establishment of ‘Mandatory Minimum’ sentences for certain court martial convictions. The present Military Justice System does not have any mandatory minimum sentences; it only has maximum allowable punishments. While not used in the military, established minimum sentences are used in the Federal Criminal Justice System,” said Sean Dunn, who practices civilian and military criminal law in Southern California.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author