Q: Is a high-ranking officer immune from prosecution and conviction?
A military sexual misconduct conviction can have devastating consequences to a service member’s career, reputation, and freedom.
But child-related criminal offenses, including child pornography, child abuse, and sexual assault of a child, are among the most aggressively-prosecuted cases in all branches of the military. Not even the highest-ranking officers are able to avoid prosecution or conviction. And the higher the rank, the more the accused stands to lose not only because of the pressure to “send a message” of the military’s intolerance of such abuses, but also because the value of the pension and benefits (as well as the difficulty in starting life over) increases the longer the military career goes on.
Because a conviction could result in discharge and loss of your military career, including pension, pay, and benefits, confinement, and mandatory sex offender registration, it is important to hire a skilled civilian child-related military criminal defense attorney to aggressively defend the charges. Putting your future in the hands of an appointed military defense attorney – – who is likely far less experienced and far more overworked than the team of top-level prosecutors working against you– –is not advisable.
Even if you lose at the trial level, an experienced court-martial appeal attorney can help you appeal your conviction.
In a high-profile court martial case, a decorated Marine Colonel with a 36-year career was convicted of sexual abuse of a child “for touching her genitalia” but was acquitted on counts of “raping the child by penetrating her with his fingers and of sexually assaulting another adult woman on multiple occasions”. The six-year-old child and her parents, who had been friends of the Colonel and his wife, all testified at trial.
The Colonel was also found guilty of “conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman” with respect to numerous instances of “crude behavior amid heavy alcohol consumption”.
Upon conviction, the Colonel was sentenced to 5 1/2 years behind bars and to be dismissed from the Marine Corps. Because such a dismissal, if it is approved, would be equivalent to a dishonorable discharge, the Colonel would likely “lose all entitlements and retirement benefits” which could reportedly be worth over $5 million due to the length of his career of service. A “considerable” appeal is reportedly planned.
If you are, or believe you might be, facing a military court-martial, or if you need assistance with appealing a conviction, the experienced court-martial defense and appeal attorneys at Elkus, Sisson, and Rosenstein can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.
From our offices in Colorado Springs and Denver, we aggressively defend service members of all ranks and in all branches wherever they are stationed in the world.