Military Penalties for Social Media Statements

The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States provides Americans with the right to free speech. While military members also have this right, there are some important limitations based on their service. Specifically, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)1 prohibits military members from using “contemptuous words” regarding prominent government officials, especially the president. This is because the military is expected to serve and follow the orders of these high-ranking officials whether or not they agree with the politics of the administration in power. In order to preserve this neutrality, military members can face consequences if they fail to remain apolitical.

However, social media presents a popular platform for political and highly-charged statements for everyone, including military members. While military members are allowed to use social media, their freedom of speech is still limited. In one case,2 a Marine Sergeant received an Other than Honorable discharge for statements on a Tea Party Facebook page that he started. Specifically, he stated we refused to follow any orders issued by President Obama. This is only one example of how the military can take political statements on social media very seriously.

Not all political statements are harmful

There are instances, however, in which a member of the military simply wants to express thought-provoking and valid statements regarding the political process in the United States—some of which may not be entirely positive. These situations should be carefully considered separately from inflammatory and non-constructive comments intended only to be divisive. If you find yourself facing any type of administrative or even criminal penalties for statements you made on social media, you need a quality military defense lawyer on your side as quickly as possible.

Consult with a skilled military criminal defense law lawyer as soon as possible

Whether you are facing possible punishment for statements on Facebook or for allegations of a violent or other serious crime, you should always have the representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the military justice system. The criminal defense lawyers at Gagne, Scherer & Associates, LLC have extensive experience navigating the military criminal court system, so please do not delay in calling our office at 877-867-5247 for a free consultation today.

References:

1http://www.ucmj.us/
2http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/conference/gmjs14_SteinvDowling.pdf