What You Can Do About False Sexual Assault Allegations in the Military
Sexual assault is an issue in the military, so are false sexual assault allegations. Learn your rights from a court-martial defense lawyer.
Our Court-Martial Lawyers Can Help if You are Facing a False Sexual Assault Allegations in the Military
Sexual assault is a pandemic that affects all organizations. The military is no exception. Military investigators received more than 7,800 reports of alleged sexual assault in 2020. Of course, most cases of sexual misconduct go reported, so this number represents a fraction of abusive acts. But, unfortunately, there is no way to tell how many of these reports are accurate and how many are false.
How are many military sexual assaults allegations 100% true?
The majority of sexual assault accusations are truthful and substantiated. But there are false sexual assault allegations. Therefore, someone facing a false sexual assault accusation in the US military must launch an impeccable defense to defend themselves and get the best result possible. What are the rules governing alcohol facilitated sexual assault in the military, including with consent? How do investigations into sexual assault take place within the military? What should someone facing a false accusation do?
Avoid facing false sexual assault allegations.
Answer these questions, and you can defend yourself from an accusation and continue your military career. Here is your comprehensive guide.
Consent Guidelines in Military Sex Cases
Many sexual harassment and assault cases boil down to consent. Anyone who engages in sexual contact must understand what consent entails and how it applies to different kinds of contact. Read a guide to consent and follow its perimeters word-for-word.
People must freely give consent to sex. Someone consenting to a sexual act must feel no pressure to do so. Their consent must not come under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or threats to their career. Consent is reversible. Even if two people are in bed together, one of them can decide not to continue.
If they do continue, the two must agree on what the consent constitutes. For example, the parties must decide if one partner will use a condom or birth control. Consent is specific to a particular act, and consenting to one act does not mean consenting to another act. The consent must be enthusiastic. The partners must do what they want to, not what they are expected to do.
Consent is explicit and affirmative. Not saying no does not mean saying yes. Someone who does not receive an answer can ask for consent again, but they should engage in sexual conduct until they get a response back. Some people cannot consent to sex. Anyone who is asleep or passed out cannot consent. Contact with minors is never permissible, even if they verbally agree to sex.
Laws About Military Sex Crimes
In broad strokes, the laws regarding military sex crimes are similar to the laws regarding sex crimes amongst civilians. But there are some distinctions, especially in the way allegations are investigated.
Department of Defense Regulations on Military Sexual Assault
The Department of Defense runs the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program. SAPR and SHARP are organizations that provide sexual assault training and education for all members of the military. In addition, the UCMJ defines sexual assault that all branches must adhere to. Sexual assault is any “unwanted sexual conduct that is aggravated, abusive, or wrongful.” Examples include rape, sodomy, and attempts at sexual assault.
Military Law regarding Military Sexual Assault
The Uniform Code of Military Justice is the code that all service members must follow. Article 120 discusses rape and sexual assault. Anyone who commits a sexual act by using unlawful force, using force that could cause death or injury, or administering force and/or an intoxicant commits rape. In addition, someone who threatens someone into a sexual act or commits an act without consent commits sexual assault.
Branch Regulations on Military Sexual Assault
Each branch of the military has its regulations related to sexual assault. In addition, each branch has its programs to prevent sexual crimes and to investigate sexual assault.
They are all relatively similar to each other. Commanders have the responsibility of making sure their soldiers are safe. They must set a standard of education and awareness and take action when a complaint arises.
But there are some technical differences in how these programs operate. The Marine Corps offers services for sexual assault victims like Uniformed Victims Advocates that other branches do not have. Members of each branch should familiarize themselves with the operations of their branch’s sexual assault programs.
Investigations Into Military Sexual Assault Allegations
Investigations begin with reports about sexual assault. A person has the option to make a confidential report or a non-confidential report. Confidential reports cannot lead to investigations. But the person making it can receive therapy and other support for what happened to them.
Once a non-confidential report reaches a supervisor, an investigation can begin. But, again, military Criminal Investigative Organizations run the operation. An investigator may ask questions to the person who made a report. They are trained to be trauma-sensitive, avoiding topics that may humiliate or upset the individual. They also ask questions to the person accused of sexual assault.
In a military sexual assault, the SANE examination is crucial evidence.
They are allowed to look at corroborating evidence, including rape kits and medical forms. Then, after evaluating all sources, they decide whether or not they will prosecute. Many people assume that a court-martial follows any decision to prosecute. But an investigator may decide on minor punishments or some sort of administrative action. For example, someone suspected of sexual assault may receive an administrative discharge or a transfer.
What a Falsely-Accused Military Member Should Do
An accusation of sexual assault can be bewildering and upsetting. But someone who hears that they have been accused should try to remain calm. They can invoke their right to remain silent during the investigation and talk to military sexual assault lawyers.
If you are the accused, do not contact the victim of a military sex crime.
Under no circumstances should they contact the person who made the report or anyone corroborating the report. Contacting the victim can come across as intimidation at best or stalking at worst.
They should avoid talking to others about the accusation. Even if they tell a close friend or loved one, words can leak out and affect the investigation. If the accused person is having trouble coping, they should speak to a psychiatrist.
What Military Defense Lawyers Can Do if You are Accused of Military Sexual Assault
Anyone accused of sexual assault must have a qualified legal representative. It is difficult to defend oneself from a sexual assault accusation, especially rape and forcible assault. It is okay to hire court martial lawyers without a specialty in sexual assault. But the ideal is to hire military sexual assault lawyers or Article 120 lawyers. These professionals know the regulations about sexual misconduct and have years of experience in investigating allegations.
They can represent their clients when they face sexual assault investigators. But they also conduct their inquiry to build a case to defend their clients. Then, they argue their case in court and cross-examine prosecution witnesses so the truth can come out. If a person is found guilty of a military sexual assault, court-martial appellate lawyers can appeal the decision. After a court-martial, lawyers can go to the Judge Advocate General.
How Skilled Court-Martial Lawyers Can Build a Case
There are several defenses against rape and other acts of sexual misconduct. First, an alibi shows that a defendant was doing something else when the misconduct was supposed to have occurred. Surveillance footage, Internet search results, and keycard records can build an alibi.
Lawyers can point out inconsistencies in the claimant’s story. For example, shifting details suggest that the person is making up their account or suggesting reasonable doubt to the jury.
Physical, Forensic, and Scientific Evidence in a Court-Martial
DNA and fingerprint tests can register false positives. Lawyers can hire expert witnesses who will explain the intricacies of the test and prove irregularities. If there is no credible DNA link to the defendant, they can receive an acquittal.
The defendant’s own words may be a source of evidence. But, like the claimant’s narrative, they must remain consistent and direct. A team of court-martial defense attorneys should work with their clients to smooth out all details.
How Accused People Should Conduct Themselves in Court-Martials
Anyone who is about to go before a court-martial should know what to expect when facing one. For example, a sexual assault case can go before a general court-martial, which involves a jury. If two-thirds of the jury agree on conviction, the defendant is convicted.
Military Sexual Assault Trials are Series Proceedings
Etiquette is essential in any court-martial. Sexual assault cases can be very emotional affairs, but everyone should stay civil and controlled.
Someone who is giving their testimony can ask clarifying questions if something is confusing. But they should not become upset if a lawyer tries to trip them up. Being disrespectful, evasive, or non-responsive with the lawyers hurts their credibility.
In a military court-martial, deliberation time varies.
Jury deliberations may take some time. Deliberation time varies because some juries are more deliberate than others, and some cases involve very extensive testimony and elaborate physical, forensic, and scientific evidence. Because every case is different, it is hard to read into the time that deliberations take.
During the verdict reading and sentencing, everyone in the room should stay civil. There may be some emotional displays, but people should try to present themselves professionally. A defendant should wait until after the reading to talk to their military defense lawyer.
How to Fight False Sexual Assault Allegations
False sexual assault allegations can occur. All individuals who engage in sexual contact must understand guidelines to consent. Service members can avoid many allegations if everyone acts respectfully. The military takes allegations very seriously, and all sexual misconduct is punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Each branch has its apparatus to investigate and punish offenders.
Military Defense Lawyers Can Get you the Best Outcome Possible.
Get a lawyer once you hear from investigators about an accusation. First, consider your different defenses, especially an alibi defense. Then, conduct yourself properly during a court-martial. Call the hard-hitting, experienced lawyers at Gonzalez & Waddington.