As representatives of the country and military, servicemembers are pressured to act and behave a certain way. But military service can be highly stressful and demanding, and many develop trauma. As a result, some face difficulties readjusting to civilian life and exhibit violence toward their own families.
Domestic violence endangers the service member’s family and is contrary to the military’s values. As a result, facing domestic violence charges could be detrimental to one’s military career.
Domestic violence consequences for those in the military
The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) formally recognized domestic violence as a crime and a distinct type of assault in 2019. Servicemembers who are accused of abusing their spouse or children may be tried in a court-martial and a civilian court for the same crime.
A court-martial operates differently from a civilian court and is recognized for imposing far heavier sentences. In cases of domestic violence, commanding officers will look into the nature of the allegations, the extent of any injuries, and whether the occurrence was an isolated incident or part of a series of events. The military court will consider these factors when deciding on a suitable sentence.
If found guilty of domestic abuse, the member may face the following penalties:
- Pay forfeiture
- Restraining order
- Reduction of rank
- Discharge from service
Because military members are also subject to state and federal laws, they may potentially face prosecution and additional charges from the civilian justice system.
Whether or not it’s true, being accused of domestic abuse can permanently change someone’s life. Uniformed personnel falsely accused of such misconduct must act immediately and consider finding a reputable lawyer. A good defense could be the difference between facing public disgrace or recovering their livelihood and reputation.