The issues of rape and sexual assault in the military are very serious. More and more military members are coming forward to report these issues. But according to a report by the Defense Advisory Committee on Investigation, Prosecution, and Defense of Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces (DAC-IPAD), many of these cases are being brought to trial without enough evidence, resulting in low conviction rates.
It is important to note that the DAC conducted its research based on 517 cases of only penetrative sexual offenses including rape, sexual assault, and forcible sodomy. It also included attempted acts of the same. The DAC reviewed any allegations of this nature from October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017 by an active-duty service member against anyone age 18 or older. The DAC analyzed these cases to determine whether enough evidence existed to bring charges and to achieve a conviction.
The DAC found that many of the cases that went to trial did not have enough evidence for a conviction and that in 95% of the cases that were reviewed, the decision not to take action on a complaint was just.
Yet, some have criticized the process for how these types of allegations are handled. Because these allegations are brought to and handled within the chain of command, many feel that there isn’t necessary impartiality.
According to published report in March 2020, the DAC made three non-empirical assessments based upon the data:
- Many of the statements and investigator’s notes lacked detail and follow-up questioning, leading to difficulty establishing probable cause and justifying prosecution.
- Each case is different and therefore military investigators should have the right to investigate each case as necessary; using the same approach for every case leads to difficulty gathering adequate relevant evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Command often took adverse actions against those who were accused, negatively impacting not only the military member’s career but also his or her personal life.
The DAC found that in 86.3% of the cases the committee looked at, there was enough evidence to establish probable cause, but of those cases only 58% had enough admissible evidence to get a conviction. Furthermore, in 89.4% of cases that resulted in a verdict, just 42.9% resulted in a conviction for a penetrative sexual offense.
Common Factors in Convictions
Of the cases that resulted in a conviction, the DAC found common factors:
- The victim lacked “motive to fabricate” the allegations;
- The perpetrator confessed; and/or
- The perpetrator was not drinking when the alleged assault transpired.
While there is a lot more to unpack, one thing is very evident: Convictions require a lot of evidence. If you have been charged with violating the UCMJ, it’s in your best to speak with a qualified military defense attorney as soon as possible. He or she can work to help preserve any evidence in your defense.
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!