The Navy-Marine Appellate Court overturns sexual assault conviction!

On 14 July 2015, in United States v. Pease, the Navy-Marine Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCA) overturned convictions for sexual assault and abusive sexual contact.  This case involved a Navy E-5 (appellant) and two subordinate females.  The NMCCA found that appellant’s convictions for sexual assault and abusive sexual contact were factually insufficient because the government failed to prove that the two intoxicated females involved in the sexual activity were incapable of consenting due to their intoxication.  This is a significant outcome.  It shows that even with all the current news today focused on sexual assault in the military, appellate courts are still strictly requiring the government to meet their burden of proof.  In this case, the sexual encounters with the two females happened on different occasions.  In both cases, the females were highly intoxicated and woke up the next morning with fragmented memories.  There were no blood alcohol content levels put into evidence by the government to show how intoxicated the females were.  Additionally, both females testified that they had memories of consenting to some of the sexual activity.  One of the females testified that she could remember kissing the appellant, telling him that he was cute and supporting her own weight on her elbows during some of the sexual activity.  This same female testified that she may have said “yes” to sexual intercourse, but could not remember doing so.  The other female remembered disliking some of the sexual activity, telling appellant to stop and him stopping.  Based on this testimony, the NMCCA found that the government had not met their burden of proof to show that these females were incapable of consenting to the sexual activity.  Furthermore, the appellate court found that the government had not met their burden to show that appellant knew or should have known that the females were too intoxicated to consent to the activity.  As stated earlier, this holding is significant.  It demonstrates that simply because an alleged victim was intoxicated during the alleged sexual activity, he or she is NOT necessarily incapable of consent in the eyes of the court.  However, if you or your loved one is accused of sexual assault in the military, this is not an easy position.  Therefore, you need an experienced attorney on your side.  Likewise, if you or your loved one believes that a conviction for sexual assault should be overturned because the government did not meet their burden, you need an attorney with a vast amount of experience in the military appellate courts.  I have a huge amount of experience with military court-martials and court-martial appeals.   You need me on your side.   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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