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Multiplicity and unreasonable multiplication of charges are two different things…

Next Monday, in U.S. v. Elespuru, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) will hear an argument about whether two of an Airman’s charges for which he was found guilty in his court-martial are multiplicious.  The two charges are “abusive sexual contact” and “wrongful sexual contact” under the 2006 version of Article 120.  Specifically, Appellant will argue that wrongful sexual contact is a lesser included offense of abusive sexual contact and therefore the findings of guilty for both at the court-martial are multiplicious.  One of the biggest problems that the Appellant in this case faces is that his defense counsel at the court-martial argued that these two charges were an unreasonable multiplication of charges instead of arguing that the charges were multiplicious.  There is a big difference.  As already stated, if one charge is a lesser included offense of another it is multiplicious to charge both.  If the two crimes charged represent one transaction or event, then it may be an unreasonable multiplication of charges to charge both crimes.  In this case, the charges did represent more than one transaction and therefore the defense counsel should have argued multiplicity instead of an unreasonable multiplication of charges.  Unfortunately, CAAF may find that Appellant through his defense counsel waived the multiplicity argument at the court-martial level and therefore cannot now make this argument before CAAF.  We will find out on Monday.  If you or your loved one is facing court-martial charges you need an experienced advocate by your side who knows when to waive issues at trial and when to preserve issues for appeal.  This is a big event in your life, you need to feel confident about who is representing you or your loved one.  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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