Is There a Time Limit to Bring a Case for Military Sexual Assault?

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When someone commits a crime, evidence will be continuously lost over time. This is because physical evidence may get discarded or tampered with and any witnesses may forget the details of what transpired, as is human nature. This is why the government only has a certain amount of time to bring a case against an accused individual. This is called a statute of limitation. If someone tries to bring a claim after the statute of limitations has lapsed, they are prohibited – even if the claim was valid. 

It’s important to note that many crimes that are more serious in nature have much longer statutes of limitation. For instance, sex crimes involving minors don’t have a time limit under the statute of limitations. But what about military crimes; are they different?

Are There Statutes of Limitations for Sexual Assault in the Military?

The military follows its own set of laws, laid out under what is called the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Under the UCMJ, a military crime that is punishable by death has no limitation in time by which a petition must be brought. Someone who is responsible for the crime can be convicted at any time. However, since the code was enacted, a three-year statute of limitations has been set for some crimes, such as rape and kidnapping.

While the law has changed over the years, in 2020 the US Supreme Court ruled that there should be no statute of limitations for military rape crimes. Under Article 120 of the UCMJ, there is no statute of limitations for military sexual offenses, which are punishable by death. Put simply, this means that a service member can be accused of a sexual offense at any time after the alleged crime transpired – even years later. 

The justices held that per the language in the UCMJ, the government’s position regarding military rape being prosecuted by death and therefore not subject to a statute of limitations is supported. However, this does not revoke the statute of limitations for other select military crimes. 

Statutes of limitations should be taken seriously, which is why you should act right away whether you are the victim of a military crime or the accused. 

 The Court-Martial Law Division of Aviso Law LLC Helps Military Members in Colorado Who Have Been Charged with a Crime

The U.S. Government has an interest in obtaining a conviction as soon as possible, as it does not wish to gain negative publicity about one of its service members. That is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced military attorney as soon as possible. If you are a military service member and have been charged with a crime under the UCMJ, the Court-Martial Law Division of Aviso Law LLC can help. We proudly serve our military members, who sacrifice so much for our country. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

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