Are military retirees subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice for crimes they allegedly committed after their retirement?

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When it comes to the “long arm of the law” court-martial defense attorneys know that the length of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (“UCMJ”) reaches farther than many retired military members may realize. And as several retired military service members have learned the hard way, they are indeed still subject to court-martial under the UCMJ—not the civilian courts—even for crimes allegedly committed after they retired.

Two Marines have recently separately petitioned the US Supreme Court unsuccessfully to have their cases appealed claiming that the Department of Defense does not have the authority to prosecute retired service members for non-military crimes committed after retirement and that their cases should be right in civilian court. One marine was charged with child pornography and the other with sexual assault. Both were court-martialed and sentenced to several years of confinement and dishonorable discharges.

The court reportedly agreed with the government’s position that “retirement is simply a change of military status and retired personnel are subject to recall should the need arise” and by retiring and receiving pay they have chosen to maintain a relationship with the military and “all that goes with it”.

Among the other arguments of the defense attorneys was the assertion that dishonorable discharges should be reserved for those “who separated under conditions of dishonor” rather than those whose charges arose from alleged behavior after retirement and during civilian life.

They also warned it was dangerous and improper to allow retirees to be tried without limitation under the UCMJ. As an example, they argue that certain retirees could be subject to arrest and court martial—not to mention sentenced to confinement, loss of pay and a dishonorable discharge– for “contemptuous words used by a commissioned officer against the president, the vice president, Congress”. But the Court wasn’t hearing it.

If you are an active or retired service member and are, or believe you may be, facing a military court-martial, the court-martial defense attorneys at Court Martial Law Division can help you. With so much to lose, trust your future to experts with a proven track record of success.

From our offices in Denver, and Colorado Springs, Colorado, we represent active and military retired service members of all ranks, in all branches, stationed or retired anywhere in the world. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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