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.

In 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 courts martial.

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 (866) 361-4723 to connect with his firm or use an online contact form.