The Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCA) has reaffirmed
through a recent ruling that a military service member never truly retires
from the Armed Forces. Through its comments on
United States v. Dinger, the NMCCA holds that retirement is a status change, not a removal from
military service. With this statement made and upheld, it opens the possibility
that retired military personnel can still be court-martialed for criminal
misbehavior and face military penalties.
U.S. v. Dinger, Retired Gunnery Sergeant Dinger pleaded guilty to multiple
sex crimes, including attempting to produce and possessing child pornography. Despite
Dinger having completed 20 years of enlisted duty before retirement, a
military judge viewed him as a military service member and punished him
accordingly. He was penalized with nine years of confinement and a dishonorable
discharge from the forces from which he had already retired.
Dinger attempted to appeal the decision, citing his retirement as a separation
from active duty members and therefore from military criminal penalties.
The NMCCA found that a retired military service member is in effective
still within the military, as his or her name will still be on military
registers, he or she can wear a military uniform without consequence,
and he or she may actually still receive pay from the military. Someone
who has been discharged from the military, however, is subject to severed
ties, both good and bad. As Dinger had not been previously discharged
and had not been severed, he could still be judged through a trial by
After the NMCCA determined that a retired military service member was indeed
still within the military but under a different status, the penalty of
dishonorable discharge was weighed. It found that neither the powers of
the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) nor the President of the United
States prevented a court-martial judge from using dishonorable discharge
as a penalty in a retired military service member’s case. The case
has concluded with the affirmation of Dinger’s dishonorable discharge
for committing criminal acts while retired, and makes similar decisions
in the future possible.
Military Criminal Defense Attorney Joseph L. Jordan represents military
service members in all manners of military defense cases. He keeps up-to-date
on the latest changes to military law, allowing his clients to have confidence
in his representation, no matter the complications of his case. If you
are an active duty or a retired military service member who is facing
trial by courts martial, you can rely on Attorney Joseph Jordan to shield
you, your rights, your rank, and your reputation. Call
888.616.6177 to connect with his firm or use an
online contact form.