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Changes in military sexual assault law: What does this mean for you?

by | Aug 24, 2021 | Military Law |

Anyone who has been involved with the military criminal justice system knows that it is complicated. However, although it is complex, it is generally stable, avoiding fast and multiple changes.

Recent political moves could have a rarely seen impact on the criminal justice system in the military, especially as it concerns sexual assault claims. Articles by politico.com and military.com discuss the proposed changes to the criminal justice system in the military.

What are the proposed changes?

As with any proposed legislation, there are numerous factors, many of which are still under debate, the general gist is that sexual assault cases would no longer be handled under the normal internal chain of command. Rather, these cases would fall under the jurisdiction of an independent civilian authority.

What impact could these changes have?

For the military at large, this would strip the armed forces of the authority to regulate its own people internally, and greatly hinder its ability to manage the messaging and reputation to the outside world.

There is a chance that this move, if it should pass, would result in much greater efforts in various levels of the military to cover up sexual assault crimes rather than have them widely known throughout the country. Of course, this would be antithetical to the stated goals of the proposed legislation, but it is worth considering as a possibility.

For individuals facing a sexual assault charge, it is extremely difficult to determine what impact this would have. For those in lower levels of the military, this might be a benefit, as they would assumedly receive the same treatment as any civilian facing similar charges. However, for those who are high up and well connected in the military, there is less chance of a previously spotless service record to afford them any leeway in the system.

All of this is speculative, of course, without seeing what the legislation looks like in its final form, or even whether it will pass. But support is growing for this move in the legislature. Whether it passes or not, you need to defend yourself aggressively against sexual assault and other military crime charges, to protect your future.