Military Criminal Defense Blog

Gagne, Scherer & Associates, LLC announce Kristin Helton as 2016 winner of $1,200 college scholarship

Gagne, Scherer & Associates, LLC are proud to announce that Kristin Helton has been awarded a $1,200 college scholarship. Growing up in a small, farm community in Illinois, Kristin always dreamed of helping others. A strong desire to assist those in need and a personal connection to the military served as her inspiration for her winning essay, which reads, in part: “Before considering applying for this incredible scholarship opportunity, I thought long and hard about the essay topic.  I was unsure if I was qualified to address the issue, as I have never served in the military. However, many of my family members have served and laid their lives on the line to help protect and better this country.  With this in mind, I can […]

Insider Tips from a Military Attorney: How to win your Sexual Assault Case

A military sexual assault case can’t be about settling scores. It’s about staying free and staying off of the sex offender list. Here’s how you do that: Be nice Be reasonable. Be thorough. Am I telling you to be nice? I am. Bear with me. Broadly speaking, an attorney will defend a military sexual assault case in one of two ways: attack or outflank. Every particular approach falls into one of those categories. Either approach can work, but this is a classic instance where, more often than not, you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar. How do you do it? Strictly speaking, you do don’t do it, your attorney does. But you still have to choose how you want to be represented, because everything […]

3 Ways to Beat Military Investigators at Their Own Game

The script, simplified:  What exactly am I being accused of? That’s not true. I didn’t do it. I’m not going to talk to you, I want a lawyer. If the military suspects you of committing a crime, eventually the investigators will ask you to talk. The conversation won’t be on your turf. It’ll be at their office, behind locked and guarded doors, in a tiny, windowless, clockless interrogation room. You’ll be directed where to sit. The scene and the method are scripted, staged, and calibrated for maximum psychological effect. It’s not a conversation, it’s a confession hunt. And it can last all day and night if you let it. These three tips can help you get out of that situation quickly and harmlessly. Get whatever information […]

5 Dangerous Myths About Defending A Court-Martial

Myth 1: A COURT-MARTIAL is required to be a fair fight Truth: From the beginning of the case, the court martial defendant faces huge disadvantages. The government has unlimited resources at a court martial, but the appointed defense counsel’s office receives very little funding. The government will have at least two prosecutors at a court martial, while the defendant is typically entitled to have only one appointed attorney. The prosecution has an entire office of investigators, but the defense is entitled to none. The prosecution can afford to travel and have any witness it wants to the court martial in order to testify against the defendant, but the defense needs to get the government’s approval to fund any defense witness travel. The prosecution gets to […]

The Good Soldier Defense – Three Things You Need To Know

Good Soldier Defense A Good Soldier Defense is a well-recognized defense under the Rules of Court Martial, the Military Rules of Evidence and military case law. United States v. Wilson, 28 M.J. 48 (C.M.A. 1989). This defense allows the accused service member to show honorable service and military accomplishments to suggest that the charged misconduct is so incompatible with the member’s overall excellent military service that the accused would not have committed the crime. It’s a powerful tool for the defendant because the judge and jury can use this evidence all by itself to find reasonable doubt. If you have been charged with a military crime, there are many things to know about The Good Soldier Defense including: 1. Military Rule of Evidence 405: Military […]

Three Steps To Take Before You Hire a Criminal Military Defense Lawyer

Have You Been Investigated or Charged With a Military Crime? When you are faced with an arrest for a military crime[1], it is important that you immediately work with an attorney that understands military law and the potential long-term obstacles that could come from a conviction. Many service members in your situation choose to rely on the appointed military defense counsel. Often times this occurs because the appointed attorney is paid for by the U.S. government and the accused does not wish to pay for representation.  By retaining a civilian criminal defense attorney, however, you can maximize the chances of a successful outcome because you will be working with a lawyer who can allot sufficient time to your case and who will create a strategy […]

Special Courts-Martial

In the military, court martial trials are governed by the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM), which contains the Uniform Code of Military Justice [1](UCMJ), Rules for Courts-Martial (RCM) and the Military Rules of Evidence [2](MRE).  Chapter II, [3] of the Manual for Courts-Martial provides, in part, as follows: “Special courts-martial. (A) In general. Except as otherwise expressly provided, special courts-martial may try any person subject to the code for any noncapital offense made punishable by the code and, as provided in this rule, for capital offenses.” A special court-martial is the intermediate level court-martial and is often characterized as the military equivalent of a civilian misdemeanor court.  A special court-martial may try anyone subject to the UCMJ, including officers, midshipmen, reservists who allegedly committed crimes when […]

Two Concerns Regarding BAH Or Travel Voucher Fraud

Base Allowance for Housing and Travel Voucher Fraud All branches of the Armed Forces are cracking down on Base Allowance for Housing [1] (BAH) and Travel Voucher Fraud[2] and abuse.  Using targeted investigations and random audits, various command auditors are focusing on service members taking advantage of these sources of additional cash. BAH and Travel Voucher fraud prosecutions uncover recurring patterns including: Fake rental agreements False home or record information Family living in low-cost area, but claiming a high-cost address Fake marriages / Falsified marriage documents Divorces never reported to base finance office and/or DFAS False claim of having dependents Claiming elevated numbers of dependents False travel claims Inflated number of trips Mileages inflated / Trip distances exaggerated False requests for reimbursement BAH and Travel […]

The Army Court of Criminal Appeals Granted an Alleged Victim’s Petition and Reverses a Military Judge’s Ruling Regarding Mental Health Records

On February 1, 2016, the Army Court of Criminal Appeals released an opinion in the case of United States v. Ducksworth[1], No 201507690.  In the Ducksworth case, the alleged victim requested that the appellate court set aside the military judge’s ruling and to declare her mental health records, which had been the subject of the ruling, to be inadmissible at trial. In the underlying case, the accused, Sergeant Ducksworth, was charged with allegedly committing sexual offenses against two victims.  In September 2015, the military judge ordered the government to produce all of the victim’s records maintained by the Alaska Office of Child Services as well as two civilian mental health providers.  Those records were ordered to be produced although the alleged victim had not been afforded […]

How The Military Punishes Convicted Sex Offenders and How a Military Defense Attorney Can Help You Avoid It

Military members found guilty of sexual assault, child pornography, or other sex offenses face a wide variety of potential penalties. The sentence issued in each particular case can vary widely depending on the nature of the charges and the particular jury or judge who heard the case. Sentences can include some or all of the following: Dishonorable discharge Civilian sex offender registration Lengthy prison sentence Life in prison Death penalty (for certain offenses such as child rape) While some military members receive no confinement at all, this almost never happens. Others have recently sentences of up to 144 years in prison. The Associated Press recently reported1 that 61 percent of the 1,233 offenders in military prisons received sex crime convictions, demonstrating that prison time is […]