The military brings a severe sexual assault case to trial. As a result, the conviction rate is low.


If you are an outsider who is only broadly familiar with the concept of “sexual assault in the military,” advocates and senators seeking to change the laws surrounding sexual assault in our military. It may look like an altruistic suggestion from. However, as a military judicial practitioner, both prosecutors and defenders carefully consider or more the proposals submitted to determine whether to actually prevent or mitigate sexual assault in the military. A “fair” way to warn you to arbitrate your case.

This is what I mean.

Last week, the Senate Military Committee was held at Capitol Hill Another hearing About military sexual assault. As always, the Commission hosted panelists primarily on one side of the matter: survivors, advocacy groups, military sexual assault prevention and response leader echoing choruses, military false allegations of sexual assault. To tell you what you are dealing with.

I’m here to tell you they’re wrong. They are not necessarily wrong with the bill, which transfers the power to prosecute a felony case from the commander to a prosecutor outside the defendant’s chain of command. However, the proposed law is not important.

Close cases with uncertain results

The military not only investigates sexual assault crimes, Very high rate, It also takes Cases “close” to trial, some that may be surprising Veteran private prosecutors nationwide. In fact, the military is famous for taking up cases “withdrawn” by local prosecutors and sending them to court martial.

Senator, seemingly embarrassed Stagnation Why the military cannot eradicate this issue, or “prevent“Sexual assault after all these years — and why are the conviction rates so low in the case of prosecution? More than two hours This was a cry of battle: I have seen the facts. I have seen the data. Still do not know.The military not only investigates sexual assault crimes, Very high rate, It also takes Some cases are “close” to trial, perhaps scary Veteran private prosecutors nationwide. In fact, the military is famous for taking up cases “withdrawn” by local prosecutors and sending them to court martial.

In fact, the reporting rate of allegations of sexual assault in the military is higher than ever. Lower conviction rate.. This is the reason.

The military regulates a strong judicial system, Uniform Code of Military Justice, Federal law governing procedures and criminal offenses. Under the law, the accused (the criminal defendant’s military term) must be convicted at a court martial with evidence beyond reasonable doubt. This is the same proof standard as any other criminal court in the United States. This is the greatest burden of proof known by law. Members of the army are brought to justice by a panel of military judges or members who are not previously involved in the case.

Arizona National Guard soldiers in Phoenix, April 9, 2018.

Arizona National Guard soldiers in Phoenix, April 9, 2018.

If the conviction rate is low in a particular type of case, the comprehensive reason should be fairly clear — you are bringing a near case to trial. This is exactly the military formula. Therefore, instead of telling certain people who are allegedly victims of sexual assault that their case cannot be prosecuted (or is likely to be acquitted), The military takes a wide range of sexual assault cases As for the strength of the evidence, we will go to a wide range of trials.It brought the acquittal rate Nearly 93% in recent years..

This is not just a good defense lawyer. Nor is it some grand conspiracy to keep sex offenders in the military unaccountably. Court-martial-The court-martial for sexual assault crimes is being tried hard on both sides of the aisle. Today, there are extraordinary prosecutors serving in all departments of the military, as well as highly talented lawyers.

The problem of military sexual assault is not a lack of prosecution, not even a lack of violent prosecution. The problem is the ambiguity of legal standards to encourage reporting. “Believe in all women” is one of the cry of the rally, but it does not match the automatic conviction in court because the law literally requires the opposite. The prosecution must prove the version of the alleged victim beyond reasonable doubt.

Damage dealt: At university, I was falsely accused of sexual harassment. A man like me deserves proper procedure.

The real reason for the low conviction rate of the classic “he said, she said” sexual assault case can fill the volume, but think of it as follows: Crime is the word of the alleged victim. Good prosecutors find other evidence to support these allegations, and in strong cases military personnel are not only convicted, but also sentenced to very severe sentences.

In other cases, there is no amount of further investigation or prosecution skills to overcome the lack of evidence that the crime actually occurred. Whether it was a forgery, a misunderstanding, or many other possibilities has nothing to do with our Constitution.

Proving sexual assault is not easy

Hundreds of military personnel are sitting in the military today Confinement facility —Brig—Sentenced for years behind the bar, often for an overnight drunken sex encounter. Needless to say, it’s accountable.

Perhaps transferring disposition from the commander to the career prosecutor would not increase the number of sexual assault charges. However, I hope that if it is passed, it will result in a decision of prosecution based solely on evidence, unaffected by direct orders. This model is associated with a higher conviction rate (if that is really the goal). However, as reports of sexual assault continue to grow and prosecution rates fall, Congress and advocacy groups may still remain unresolved.

Sexual assault is a horrific crime. All cases that meet the evidence criteria should be prosecuted by the jurisdiction having jurisdiction. This does not mean that all allegations of sexual assault, even if true, are eligible. The difference between “believing” someone’s story of harm and being able to prove it in court cannot be exaggerated.

Value crisis: Special operations forces may be endangering national security.

And while the constitutional rights of those accused of crime may not be prevalent in the current cultural environment, it does not make them so important. Presumption of innocence, burden of proof, due process, fair trials, competent agents, etc. are just buzzwords until you are actually free to act.

When parliamentarians lament the low conviction rate in military sexual assault cases, they are saying: analyze the specific facts and circumstances of all cases, or participate in trials. Without, I believe these people were unfairly acquitted in court, which gave these soldiers the same constitutional rights as those tried in this country.

This should have a collective impact on us as a nation.

As a mother and veteran woman with five young children, I want to see the eradication of sexual assault from the military and our entire society. However, it does not sacrifice constitutional rights that apply to everyone accused of crime in this country. Even members of the military, and of course, #MeToo.

Catherine Cherkassky (@CherkaskyKatie) Is a military veteran, a former special victim prosecutor, and a current criminal defense counsel specializing in the defense of sexual assault.She is a co-owner GoldenLawInc.com, A national news commentator and host of the podcast “Legally Bound”. Follow her on YouTube.Legally blonde.. “

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This article was originally published in USA TODAY: The military attempts a sexual assault case in which a career prosecutor will decline



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