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Are sweeping changes to military criminal law imminent?

On Behalf of | Sep 21, 2022 | Military Law |

There have always been disagreements about the law. Whenever laws are introduced and put into practice, people argue to change the laws. It’s just part of the normal course of things. Invariably, when changes are implemented, some things are improved and other problems are introduced.

These patterns of change are the same in military contexts are they are with civilian laws.

Legislative reform efforts

In a recent example, reported in Roll Call online, lawmakers are calling for significant changes to military criminal laws and procedures. According to the report, a significant number of lawmakers – both senators and representatives – are calling for reform, outlined in a new bill sponsored by New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand. There is also a companion measure in California, sponsored by Democrat Jackie Speier.

As expected, not everyone agrees with the proposed changes.

The proposed changes

According to the Roll Call article, the proposed changes appear to involve two primary provisions. First, it would create teams of prosecutors specifically trained “to make charging decisions on most major crimes.” The second provision is related: These specially trained prosecutors will remain outside of the chain of command of both those accused of serious crimes and their alleged victims.

The goal of these changes is to better protect victims of serious crimes, especially sex crimes in the military.

The challenges

The Pentagon prefers a recently passed program that removes only sex crimes – not all crimes – from the chain of command. This is a more limited approach aimed at targeting the specific problems of sex crimes prosecution with as small of a legal instrument as possible.

What does this mean for the future?

It seems apparent that some changes will be coming to improve the prosecution of sex-crime charges in a military context. What those changes will be, how extreme they will be and when they will become codified into law are all questions we will have to wait to answer.

Regardless of how extreme these changes will be, those accused of serious military crimes still require strong defense from an experienced military lawyer. If you are facing charges, it is imperative that you fight back aggressively to protect your future.