Can a retired service member be court-martialed?
Yes. The Navy-Marine Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCA) in United States v. Dinger recently held that a retired servicemember can face a court-martial for offenses committed after retirement. In Dinger, retired Gunnery Sergeant Dinger was accused of indecent acts, attempting to produce child pornography, possessing child pornography and making an indecent visual recording. The alleged offenses all occurred after GySgt Dinger officially retired from the Marine Corps. Nevertheless, the Marine Corps preferred and referred court-martial charges against GySgt Dinger. He pled guilty to the offenses at his court-martial and was found guilty. The military judge sentenced GySgt Dinger to nine years confinement and a dishonorable discharge. Based on a pretrial agreement, GySgt Dinger only received eight years confinement from the convening authority. The case was appealed to the NMCCA and the appellate court specifically held that under Article 2(a) of the UCMJ, GySgt Dinger was subject to the UCMJ when he committed the offenses. The NMCCCA explained that retirees are unlike wholly discharged personnel who no longer have any affiliation with their former service. A retiree can, for example, still wear a uniform and still receives pay. The NMCCA also stated that Congress’ intent to keep retirees subject to the UCMJ was demonstrated when several retirees from different services were recalled to duty for court-martial during both Iraq wars. The NMCCA also considered whether the court-martial had the authority to issue a dishonorable discharge for GySgt Dinger who had already retired. The NMCCA held that the court-martial did have this authority. It reasoned that if Congress had intended for a court-martial not to have this authority over a retiree, it would have exempted them formally. Therefore, GySgt Dinger’s sentence stands. This decision is important for those who believe they become a civilian following retirement and are no longer subject to the UCMJ. Don’t make that mistake, understand the law. If you or your loved one is facing court-martial charges, regardless of status, you need an experienced advocate by your side. I have an incredible amount of experience defending servicemembers facing court-martials. I also have a vast amount of experience at the appellate level. I am here to help with any case. Call me if you or your loved one needs experienced representation. The consultation is free. To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.