Are Military Veterans Subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice if Their Alleged Crimes Are Committed After They Have Retired?

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When individuals have retired from their service with the military there is often a sense of pride and a belief that they are now free from military laws, such as the Uniform Code of Military Justice (“UCMJ”), that they had previously been subject to. However, what many retired military members may not realize, is they are still subject to court-martial under the UCMJ instead of civilian courts – even if the alleged crimes were committed after they retired.

Recent Precedent

Two marines have recently filed separate petitions with the U.S. Supreme Court to have their cases appealed claiming that the Department of Defense did not have the necessary authority to oversee their cases – retired military personnel who committed non-military crimes after their time in the military. One was charged with sexual assault and the other with child pornography. They both argued that their cases should be heard in civilian court. However, they were court-martialed and sentenced for their crimes and dishonorably discharged from the military.

Veterans Subject to Martial Law

The court sided with the government that being retired from the military (a military veteran) is merely a change in the status and that veterans are still subject to recall if needs arose. It found that since veterans have retired and receive pay from the military, maintaining their relationship with it that they are also subject to “all that goes with it.”

The Slippery Slope of Subjecting Veterans to Martial Law

The defense attorneys also argued that dishonorable discharges are to be reserved only for those “who separated under conditions of dishonor,” and not for those who have allegedly committed crimes after their service, during their civilian life. The attorneys also argued (to no avail) that allowing veterans to be tried without limitation under the UCMJ could be dangerous.

They provided the example that under these laws a veteran could actually be subject to arrest, confinement, loss of pay, and dishonorable discharge “for contemptuous words used by a commissioned officer against the president, the vice president, Congress.” However, the court did not agree.

Aviso Law LLC Can Help Those Serving or Retired from the Armed Forces

If you are a military veteran and believe that you may be facing a court-martial, it is important that you consult with a knowledgeable and experienced court-martial attorney. The implications of such a case can be monumental.

At Aviso Law LLC, our Court-Martial Law Division helps to represent both active and retired military service members of all branches, ranks, regardless of where they are stationed or retired. Our experienced military attorneys, located in Colorado, understand and work to help our clients in any way that we can. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, visit us online or call us at 719-247-3111 today!

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