Guilty plea conviction for larceny of electronic media overturned by the Navy-Marine Appellate Court.

Recently in the Marine case United States v. Stevens, the Navy-Marine Court of Criminal Appeals (N-MCCA) overturned a Marine Staff Sergeant’s conviction for larceny even though he pled guilty at his court-martial.  In this case, Staff Sergeant Stevens worked as an instructor at the Logistics Operations School at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.  His office space consisted of cubicles that he shared with other instructors.  When his fellow instructors were away from their desks, Staff Sergeant Stevens admitted that he took credit cards and debit cards out of their wallets and wrote down the numbers, expiration dates and security codes and then put them back.  Staff Sergeant Stevens admitted during his court-martial that he then used this information from the different cards to purchase electronic media online such as, an audiobook, music downloaded to his iPhone, video games for his Sony PlayStation and virtual currency for a smartphone “The Simpsons” game.   Based on his plea of guilty to all larceny and attempted larceny charges, the military judge in his court-martial found Staff Sergeant Stevens guilty of those charges and sentenced him to 30 days confinement, reduction to E-1, and a bad-conduct discharge.  When this case reached the N-MCCA, however, the N-MCCA held that electronic media could not be the basis of a larceny charge.  The court held that to be guilty of larceny under Article 121, UCMJ, one must steal tangible property.  The N-MCCA therefore dismissed 10 larceny specifications from Staff Sergeant Stevens’ court-martial.  The N-MCCA then reassessed the sentence and removed the confinement from the sentence.  This case shows that even convictions based on guilty pleas may be overturned on appeal.  There are many reasons convictions can be overturned on appeal.  I have a lot of experience with court-martials and court-martial appeals.  Call me and I can give you an honest assessment as to whether you have a valid appeal.  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.

William E. Cassara- Military Law Attorney

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