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Executive Order amending the Manual for Courts-Martial signed!

On 17 June 2015, the President signed an Executive Order making effective all of the revisions to the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM) required by the FY 14 and FY15 National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA).  The revisions are mostly pointed at courts-martial for sexual assault offenses.  There are many significant amendments to the MCM.  Some of the largest revisions are those made to Rule for Courts-Martial 405, which dictates how the Article 32 hearing before the general court-martial is conducted.  These hearings will now look very different than they did before.  In most cases, the investigating officer will be a Judge Advocate, they will be recorded, a victim of sexual assault does not have to testify at the Article 32 hearing, and now the rape shield law will apply with no exceptions.  An Article 32 hearing will no longer be a discovery tool for the defense.  These changes will greatly impact what can be presented at an Article 32 hearing.  Therefore, if you facing an Article 32 hearing, you need to have experience by your side.  These hearings can be very helpful in convincing a command not to go forward with a charged offense, however, with these new revisions an inexperienced defense counsel may have difficulty putting the best evidence forward for an accused.  Additionally, these revisions to the MCM take away the ability of the accused to present evidence about a successful military career as a defense to sexual assault during the court-martial.  These revisions also mandate that a servicemember convicted of a sexual assault crime be sentenced, at a minimum, to a Dishonorable Discharge or Dismissal from the military.  Finally, these revisions greatly restrict a convening authority’s ability to grant relief following the court-martial.  These revisions are serious and directly affect you if you or your loved one is facing charges for sexual assault in the military.  You should not wait to hire an aggressive attorney with experience and vast knowledge in this area of the law.  Call me now.  I can help.  To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.

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