Stolen Valor Will Now Get You Up To A Year In The Slammer, And Other Major UCMJ Changes That Took Effect This Year

news

Domestic violence, recruiters having sex with recruits and committing adultery with someone of the same sex are now crimes in the military.


Congress passed its most sweeping reforms to the Uniform Code of Military Justice in decades in 2016, but it didn't take effect until Jan. 1 of this year. Other changes to the military process and offenses, such as domestic violence, were included in the recently passed 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.

Patricia Babb, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, said she is unaware of anyone who has already been charged with any new crimes so far this year because they're so new. She said the Navy has spent a lot of time educating its attorneys and other officers who can administer punishment about the updates. All new recruits also are taught about the UCMJ once they enter the service.

Here's a look at some of the new laws and how the military says they differ from previous practices.

Domestic Violence

Anyone who commits a violent offense against a spouse, an intimate partner, or an immediate family member of that person to threaten or intimidate them can now be punished at a court-martial, according to a Navy summary. Domestic violence is already punishable under state law in Virginia. Typically, state and military prosecutors will work together to decide where someone should be charged. But because the UCMJ is a federal law, there is nothing to stop a service member from being charged with crimes by both in unique circumstances.

Adultery

Adultery has long been a crime in the military but it has been replaced with "extra-marital sexual conduct," according to the Army. The new offense broadens the definition of sexual intercourse, which now includes same-sex affairs. Previously, prosecutors had to prove traditional intercourse to obtain a conviction for adultery. Now oral sex and other activities are included.

Legal separation also is now a defense against the crime. Previously, service members could be charged with adultery even if they had been legally separated for years but were not divorced, the Army said.

Sex With Recruits

Recruiters, drill sergeants and others in "positions of special trust" convicted of abusing their authority over recruits or trainees now face stiffer penalties, the Army said. Those positions of trust include officers and non-commissioned officers, according to the Air Force.

The maximum sentence was increased from two years to five years of confinement for those in authority engaging in prohibited sexual activities with junior personnel, the Army said.

Credit Card Theft

The penalty for fraudulent use of credit cards, debit cards or other access devices to acquire anything of value has been increased to a maximum of 15 years confinement if the theft is over $1,000.

If the theft is under $1,000 the maximum penalty was increased from five to 10 years confinement, and this crime also includes exceeding one's authorization to use the access device, for example, misusing a Government Travel Card.

Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking is now included as a stalking offense, which encompasses a broad range of conduct that involves placing another person in fear for their safety, to include fear of sexual assault, the Army said.

Stolen Valor

The penalty for wearing unauthorized medals of valor has increased from 6 months to a maximum of one-year confinement along with forfeiture of pay and a bad-conduct discharge, the Army said. This includes wearing an unauthorized Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Purple Heart, or valor device. The maximum penalty for wearing any other unauthorized medal is still six months.

Retaliation

Anyone reporting a crime or a protected communication to authorities is protected from retaliation. An adverse personnel action for reprisal can get the person in authority up to three years confinement without pay and a dishonorable discharge, the Army said. The UCMJ also makes it a crime to retaliate against a person who plans to report a crime, according to Air Force summary.

Consent

The definition of consent has been clarified to reinforce that submission resulting from the use of force, threat of force, or placing another individual in fear does not constitute consent.

Sexual Contact

The definition of "sexual contact" was modified to apply only to specific areas of the body, rather than to touching any area with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, the Army said. The change to the definition clarifies the distinction between sexual harassment and sexual assault. Unless someone makes contact with designated areas of another person's body, it is not sexual assault, according to the Army.

Burglary

The definition of burglary has changed to include breaking and entering any building or structure, anytime, with the intent to commit any offense under the UCMJ. In the past, burglary was limited to breaking and entering the home of another in the nighttime, the Army said.

———

©2019 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

WATCH NEX


(U.S. Attorney's Office in Maryland)

GREENBELT, Md. (Reuters) - A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant accused of amassing a cache of weapons and plotting to attack Democratic politicians and journalists was ordered held for two weeks on Thursday while federal prosecutors consider charging him with more crimes.

Read More Show Less
An undated image of Hoda Muthana provided by her attorney, Hassan Shibly. (Associated Press)

Attorneys for the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America have filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General William Barr and President Donald Trump asking the court to recognize the citizenship of an Alabama woman who left the U.S. to join ISIS and allow she and her young son to return to the United States.

Read More Show Less
U.S. soldiers surveil the area during a combined joint patrol in Manbij, Syria, November 1, 2018. Picture taken November 1, 2018. (U.S. Army/Zoe Garbarino/Handout via Reuters)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will leave "a small peacekeeping group" of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a U.S. pullout, the White House said on Thursday, as President Donald Trump pulled back from a complete withdrawal.

Read More Show Less
Construction crews staged material needed for the Santa Teresa Border Wall Replacement project near the Santa Teresa Port of Entry. (U.S. Customs and Border Patrol/Mani Albrecht)

With a legal fight challenge mounting from state governments over the Trump administration's use of a national emergency to construct at the U.S.-Mexico border, the president has kicked his push for the barrier into high gear.

On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted a time-lapse video of wall construction in New Mexico; the next day, he proclaimed that "THE WALL IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION RIGHT NOW"

But there's a big problem: The footage, which was filmed more than five months ago on Sep. 18, 2018, isn't really new wall construction at all, and certainly not part of the ongoing construction of "the wall" that Trump has been haggling with Congress over.

Read More Show Less
(From left to right) Chris Osman, Chris McKinley, Kent Kroeker, and Talon Burton

A group comprised of former U.S. military veterans and security contractors who were detained in Haiti on weapons charges has been brought back to the United States and arrested upon landing, The Miami-Herald reported.

The men — five Americans, two Serbs, and one Haitian — were stopped at a Port-au-Prince police checkpoint on Sunday while riding in two vehicles without license plates, according to police. When questioned, the heavily-armed men allegedly told police they were on a "government mission" before being taken into custody.

Read More Show Less