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UCMJ Update Makes Domestic Violence a Separate Criminal Violation Under Military Law

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) has noticeably changed its views on military crimes of a violent nature. President Trump has recently approved and signed the annual defense authorization act, which has made domestic violence its own separate criminal violation with a specific statute describing the crime and potential penalties. In the past, domestic violence conducted by a military service member has been charged as a generalized assault crime. The generalized assault crime would be charged in accordance with the egregiousness of the allegation, but lacked the new term domestic violence.

The change to the UCMJ was proposed to highlight the so-called prevalence of domestic violence crimes. The real effect of this UCMJ change is to assist other law enforcement agencies to catalogue offenders when their service ends. In particular, someone convicted of domestic violence under traditional or “civilian” criminal codes can be more easily targeted by a protective order filed by their accuser. Someone convicted of domestic violence might also face additional hurdles when purchasing a firearm, or see more administrative resistance when applying for a concealed carry license.

In recent months, more than 4,000 former military service members from various branches of the Armed Forces have been stripped of their right to carry a firearm as a civilian due to past military crimes that can now be considered domestic violence. Previously, local law enforcement agencies would have never been notified of the crimes and not known to place the individual on a watch or “do not sell to” list.

Beyond just re-categorizing domestic violence as its own military crime, the comprehensive act also calls for better military bookkeeping on violent crimes. Military families subjected to domestic violence by a current or former military service member will likely be able to utilize government-provided victims’ counsel following an attack. Lastly, the update calls for new standardized policies for how to remove a domestic abuse victim or family to a new location, separate from the accused.

The effect of all of this for the service member can be quite stark. What we see at our firm is that allegations of sexual assault have become weaponized to exert revenge for one reason or another against the accused party. Sexual assault claims are prosecuted regardless of the merits and allegations of domestic violence are trending down the same path. While there is no disputing that claims of sexual assault and domestic violence do indeed occur, the majority of the allegations we defend against are false claims that are aggressively prosecuted regardless of the merits. The service member needs to be mindful of the second and third order effects of any decisions regarding relationships they make. For further information on how we defend these cases, please reach out and contact us by calling (888) 616-6177.

As a military criminal defense attorney who has represented service members at bases all across the globe, Attorney Joseph L. Jordan is known for his experience, insight, and dedication to excellence. He stays constantly atop changes to the UCMJ in order to be the best possible representative and advocate for his clients. You can also depend on him if you need representation for a military court martial. Learn more about his services today by reviewing his recent case results, browsing appreciative client testimonials, filling out an online contact form, or by calling (888) 616-6177 at any time.