Denver, CO Martial Law Blog

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sex Crimes and Court Martial Proceedings in the Military

Do You Have Legal Options Following a Conviction and Failed Appeals? 

If you or a loved one face criminal charges as a member of the military, you are likely aware that this branch of the government has the legal power to investigate alleged crimes.  They also have the ability to convict a military member and to decide on punishments ranging from pay suspension and pay grade reduction to dishonorable discharge, long-term prison sentences and even capital punishment. 

Fortunately, if a conviction occurs, a service member has the right to appeal the decision, and at any point during the military criminal law process, the accused service person has the right to representation by a civilian military defense attorney or organization.  A recent sex crimes case demonstrates that using legal help from outside the military justice system can strengthen a service member’s defense. 

In 2008, Air Force Sergeant Danny Wyatt Newton was accused of engaging in sexual acts with his eight-year-old stepdaughter. An investigation ensued, and in December of 2010, Newton was found guilty of attempted sodomy upon a child less than 12 years of age, conspiracy to obstruct justice, indecent liberties and sodomy upon a child under 12. His punishment included:

• A 25-year prison sentence;
• A dishonorable discharge;
• Forfeiture of all pay and allowances; and 
• A reduction in rank.

All of his appeals failed, and The Midwest Innocence Project, which investigates and attempts to exonerate wrongfully convicted men and women, has taken the case. Civilian law enforcement officials are also involved in clearing Newton’s name and overturning his conviction. One police officer notes that errors and questions in the case against Newton include:

• Jurisdiction errors (The alleged crime occurred in Virginia but was tried in Illinois);
• Gross lack of follow through by Child and Family Services;
• Failure by investigators to interview the alleged victim’s teachers and other care givers; and
• That Newton passed two polygraph tests.

The law enforcement official is organizing a clemency initiative for Newton, and The Midwest Innocence Project’s pending attempt at exoneration has been confirmed. 

If you face criminal charges as a member of the armed services, now is the time to start working to avoid, not overturn, a conviction. Contact Denver, Colorado, court martial defense attorney Ryan Coward for experienced representation. Call (303)567-7981.

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