We receive a number of inquiries every month about maximum punishments under the Manual for Courts-Martial. Here is the maximum punishment chart for 2019.
Part I, Preamble
Part II, Rules for Courts-Martial
Part III, Military Rules of Evidence
Part IV, Punitive Articles
Part V, Nonjudicial Punishment
Changes to Jury Selection in 2019
Here are the major changes to military practice for 2019. This is a very simplified guide to give potential accused members a general idea of the changes coming for 2019.
In 2019, court-martials will have a fixed composition. A General Court-Martial will have 8 members. It could be reduced to 6 or 7 after challenges or excusals. In capital cases, the jury will have 12 members.
In a Special Court-Martial, the jury will consist of 4 members. There is a new type of Special Court-Martial that is military judge alone.
How Does Voting Work
Under the new system, a conviction will require a 3/4thvote (75%). A General Court-Martial with 8 members will require 6 votes to convict – 3 votes to acquit. A Special Court-Martial with members will require 3 votes to convict – 2 votes to acquit.
How Will Military Judge Alone Special Court-Martials Work
Under the new system, a military judge alone special court-martial will have certain sentence limitations. The judge will not be able to impose a punitive discharge, confinement for more than 6 months, or forfeitures of pay for more than 6 months.
Enlisted Members from the Same Unit as the Accused
Article 25, UCMJ was updated. Previously, enlisted members from the same unit as the accused were prohibited from serving on a jury. Now, any enlisted member is eligible to serve – including from the same unit.
The new Rule for Courts-Martial 502 (a)(2)(B) and 912 allows the Convening Authority to detail alternate members to a court-martial. They are present and hear evidence, but do not participate in deliberations.
Are there new Sentencing Rules
Under the new system, a military judge will conduct all sentencing. In a members case, the accused can elect sentencing by members.
With members sentencing, the jury will adjudge a single sentence for all offenses. With military judge sentencing, the judge will determine appropriate terms of confinement and/or fines for each specification. The judge then determines whether the sentences are concurrent or consecutive. Terms of confinement for two or more specifications will run concurrently when they involve the same victim.
Yesterday we received a Brady notice regarding the military drug labs. Brady, of course, is a landmark Supreme Court case holding that in a criminal case the Government must turn over to the defense all information that tends to exonerate the accused.
Basically, an employee of the military drug labs expressed concern that discrepancy codes at the lab did not accurately account for the possibility that leakage or spillage during shipping of samples can cross-contaminate urine bottles.
In response, the drug lab ran an experiment to determine whether samples can leak during shipping and contaminate other samples. Sure enough, the experiment showed that you can have leakage during the shipping process that can cross-contaminate pure samples. The notices and copies of the experiment are attached.
Air Force Military Training instructor sexual assault conviction at Lackland afb set aside by appellate court - US v. hills and us v. silva
Attorney Daniel Conway is a partner in the firm. He has published a Handbook of Military Crimes and Offenses. He has also been featured by nearly every major national news organization. Mr. Conway lives in San Antonio.
In 2015, an Air Force Military Training Instructor was convicted of sexually assaulting a trainee. Dozens of Airmen were involved in the investigation and court-martial. Full disclosure, this firm has a San Antonio office and had involvement in the case (not US v. Silva).
The case - US v. MSgt Silva - made national news. He received a heavy 20 year sentence. Now the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals has set aside the convictions. The appellate court action is largely based on United States v. Hills. Our firm has had several successful appeals based on Hills. Mr. Conway has already successfully retried a court-martial following an appellate reversal.
Here is the basic idea. The Hills case applies in situations where the accused is charged with sexually assaulting more than one victim. There used to be a jury instruction that informed the panel that evidence of one victim can be relevant to show the accused's propensity to assault the other victim. (For more information see our page on Military Rule of Evidence 413). This is referred to as propensity evidence.
Military Rule of Evidence 413 permits propensity evidence when it involves uncharged misconduct. In Hills, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled that you cannot use evidence of one charged offense to prove another charged offense. The government has to prove all of the elements of each charged offense. It's informally referred to as "boot-strapping" the evidence.
The appellate courts are concerned that an improper jury instruction could lead the jury to apply the wrong standard of proof. The Hills case has had profound implications for sexual assault convictions that occurred before June 2016 - or immediately after. This firm has successfully handled several Hills related appeals similar to the Silva case.
Across services, there have been multiple sexual assault convictions set aside. Many of the cases are remanded for a new trial. Sometimes, the alleged victims choose not to participate in the retrial. Bottom line, the outcomes in the retrials is often more favorable than the first time around. Feel free to contact this firm if you think you have a case involving US v. Hills.
The Air Force has published their court-martial results for February 2017. The Air Force arranges it's data broken down by general courts-martial and special courts-martial. The data is interesting and makes me question it's accuracy. In 33 cases, according to the reporting there was not a single mixed verdict (guilty and not guilty findings).
Categorizing mixed verdicts is challenging. Should this blog count them as guilty findings or acquittals - or both. In terms of Air Force reporting, they are either leaving out details OR Air Force judges and juries are fully convicting or fully acquitting in all cases. If either is true, that would certainly warrant further inquiry. I'll be keeping my eye on the Air Force data monthly.
February was a rough month for Air Force Area Defense Counsels. Both convictions and sentences trended higher for the month. It's difficult to say why the data as a whole was trending higher. The general court-martial case reports all appear to reflect very serious cases.
The special court-martial data was fairly consistent with past months. Air Force special courts consist primarily of drug cases. It is a mystery to me why Area Defense Counsel - consistently - go judge alone in contested drug cases. It's fairly consistent across months.
In February, the one acquittal in a drug case came from a panel. It appears that 9 out of 10 cases were judge alone. The only panel case was an acquittal. Having said that, several of the cases were distribution cases. Drug distribution cases can - depending on the level of distribution - have aggravating facts.
The only real merit in going judge alone is predictability of sentence. Judges appear to find people guilty in the Air Force 100% of the time in drug cases. The value is that the sentences were predictable. The single use cases trended around 30 days confinement. There were a few that trended upwards of 45 days.
The breakdown is as follows:
Total Trials: 33
General Courts: 16 (48%)
GCM Judge Alone Trials: 9 (56%)
GCM Jury Trials: 7 (43%)
GCM Guilty Pleas: 8 (50%)
GCM Convictions: 14 (87%)
GCM Acquittals: 2 (13%)
GCM Acquittals in Contested Jury Trials: (28%)
GCM Acquittals in Judge Alone Trial: 0
GCM Adult Sexual Assault Cases: 7 (43%)
GCM Adult Sexual Assault Pleas: 2 (15%)
GCM Adult Sexual Assault Acquittals: 2 (15%)
GCM Adult Sexual Assault Contested Case Convictions: 3 (60%)
Special Courts: 17 (52%)
SPCM Convictions: 13 (76%)
SPCM Acquittals: 4 (24%)
Drug Cases: 10
Drug Acquittals: 1 (10%)
General Court-Martial Convictions
1. At Whiteman AFB, MO, Airman First Class Joshua I. Benfield was found guilty by military judge alone of sexual assault and assault consummated by battery. He was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, confinement for 12 years, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and total forfeitures. Pursuant to a pretrial agreement, the convening authority will not approve confinement in excess of 10 years.
2. At Eglin AFB, FL, Master Sergeant Richard D. Collins was found guilty by officer and enlisted members of rape. He was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, confinement for 16 years and six months, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and total forfeitures.
3. At Whiteman AFB, MO, Staff Sergeant Hollie K. Darling was found guilty by officer members of wrongful use and possession of controlled substances, failure to go, failure to obey lawful orders, and negligent dereliction of duty. She was sentenced to confinement for 179 days, reduction to Airman (E-2), forfeiture of $800 pay per month for five months, and a reprimand.
4. At Travis AFB, CA, Senior Airman Veda E. Hart was found guilty by military judge alone of wrongful use of controlled substances and larceny of military property valued under $500. He was sentenced by officer members to confinement for one year, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), forfeiture of $500 pay, and a reprimand. The pretrial agreement had no effect on the adjudged sentence.
5. At JB Elmendorf-Richardson, AK, Senior Airman Nicholas K. Hess was found guilty by military judge alone of wrongfully importing controlled substances into the United States and attempting to wrongfully possess with intent to distribute controlled substances. He was sentenced to a bad conduct discharge, confinement for two months, hard labor without confinement for 60 days, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and a reprimand. The pretrial agreement had no effect on the adjudged sentence.
6. At Fairchild AFB, WA, Technical Sergeant Nicholas E. Hollingsworth was found guilty by military judge alone of conspiracy to commit larceny of property valued over $500, attempt to commit larceny of property valued over $500, and false official statement. He was sentenced to a bad conduct discharge, confinement for seven months, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and a reprimand. The pretrial agreement had no effect on the adjudged sentence.
7. At JB San Antonio-Lackland, TX, Technical Sergeant Anthony R. Lizana was found guilty by officer and enlisted members of sexual assault, assault consummated by battery, willful and negligent dereliction of duty, adultery, and providing alcohol to underage persons. He was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, confinement for three months, hard labor without confinement for 30 days, reduction to Airman First Class (E-3), and forfeiture of $450 pay.
8. At Keesler AFB, MS, Staff Sergeant James A. McGriff II was found guilty by military judge alone of sodomy of a child, sexual abuse of a child, and enticing a child to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct. He was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, confinement for 12 years, and reduction to Airman Basic (E-1). The pretrial agreement had no effect on the adjudged sentence.
9. At JB Lewis-McChord, WA, Staff Sergeant Brandon N. Myers was found guilty by military judge alone of attempted sexual abuse of a child. He was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, confinement for eight months, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and total forfeitures. The pretrial agreement had no effect on the adjudged sentence.
10. At Edwards AFB, CA, Airman First Class Joshua A. Nabarrette was found guilty by military judge alone of possessing child pornography and larceny of property valued under $500. He was sentenced to a bad conduct discharge, confinement for 25 months, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), total forfeitures, and a reprimand. Pursuant to a pretrial agreement, the convening authority will not approve confinement in excess of 15 months.
11. At Hurlburt AFB, FL, Senior Airman Jarek P. Paulett was found guilty by officer and enlisted members of sexual assault. He was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, confinement for three years and six months, and reduction to Airman Basic (E-1).
12. At Buckley AFB, CO, Airman First Class William T. Slaunwhite was found guilty by military judge alone of assault consummated by battery and communicating a threat. He was sentenced to a bad conduct discharge, confinement for 18 months, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and total forfeitures.
13. At Osan AB, Korea, Senior Airman Gabriel C. Villanueva was found guilty by military judge alone of abusive sexual contact, assault consummated by battery, and attempted sexual assault. He was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, confinement for 10 years, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and total forfeitures. Pursuant to a pretrial agreement, the convening authority will not approve confinement in excess of six years.
14. At Robins AFB, GA, Airman First Class Charles A. Wilson III was found guilty by officer and enlisted members of premeditated murder and death of an unborn child. He was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, confinement for life without eligibility of parole, reduction to
Airman Basic (E-1), total forfeitures, and a reprimand.
General Court-Martial Acquittals
15. At Kunsan AB, Korea, an enlisted Airman was acquitted by officer and enlisted members of abusive sexual contact.
16. At Ramstein AB, Germany, an enlisted Airman was acquitted by officer and enlisted members of sexual assault.
Special Court-Martial Convictions
17. At Andersen AFB, Guam, Staff Sergeant Marko Angelo G. Antonio was found guilty by military judge of wrongful use of a controlled substance and wrongful possession of drug paraphernalia. He was sentenced by officer members to hard labor without confinement for two months, reduction to Airman First Class (E-3), and forfeiture of $500 pay per month for four months.
18. At Holloman AFB, NM, Senior Airman Sean T. Arcadi was found guilty by military judge alone of wrongful manufacture and use of controlled substances. He was sentenced to confinement for six months and reduction to Airman Basic (E-1). Pursuant to a pretrial agreement, the convening authority will not approve confinement in excess of three months.
19. At McConnell AFB, KS, Staff Sergeant John L. Gaters was found guilty by military judge alone of larceny of military property valued over $500 and false official statement. He was sentenced to a bad conduct discharge, confinement for 30 days, and reduction to
Airman First Class (E-3).
20. At Yokota AB, Japan, Airman First Class Connor J. Harrington was found guilty by military judge alone of larceny of property valued over $500. He was sentenced to confinement for
30 days, hard labor without confinement for three months, restriction to base for two months, and reduction to Airman (E-2).
21. At Yokota AB, Japan, Staff Sergeant Adrian T. King was found guilty by military judge alone of obstruction of justice, violating a lawful regulation, attempting to violate a lawful regulation, and soliciting another to violate a lawful regulation. He was sentenced to confinement for one month, reduction to Airman First Class (E-3), forfeiture of $500 pay, and a reprimand. Pursuant to a pretrial agreement, the convening authority will not approve any period of confinement.
22. At Scott AFB, IL, Senior Airman David M. Machalek was found guilty by military judge alone of wrongful use of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to hard labor without confinement for 30 days, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and forfeiture of $400 pay per month for three months. The pretrial agreement had no effect on the adjudged sentence.
23. At JB San Antonio-Lackland, TX, Senior Airman James B. McKinney was found guilty by military judge of wrongful use of a controlled substance, failure to obey a lawful order, and failure to go. He was sentenced by officer members to confinement for nine months.
24. At Aviano AB, Italy, Airman First Class Candre L. Meekins was found guilty by military judge alone of wrongful use of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to confinement for 45 days, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and forfeiture of $1,066 pay per month for
25. At Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, Senior Airman Jamain T. Miller was found guilty by military judge alone of wrongful possession and use of controlled substances. He was sentenced to confinement for 10 days, hard labor without confinement for 30 days, reduction to
Airman First Class (E-3), and a reprimand.
26. At Travis AFB, CA, Airman First Class Harley K. Pinhotamburi was found guilty by military judge alone of wrongful distribution and use of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to a bad conduct discharge, confinement for 60 days, hard labor without confinement for 90 days, and reduction to Airman Basic (E-1). The pretrial agreement had no effect on the adjudged sentence.
27. At JB Langley-Eustis, VA, Senior Airman Andrew C. Quintero was found guilty by military judge alone of wrongful use of controlled substances. He was sentenced to confinement for
45 days, hard labor without confinement for 60 days, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), forfeiture of $1,066 pay per month for two months, and a reprimand. The pretrial agreement had no effect on the adjudged sentence.
28. At Scott AFB, IL, Airman Ronald A. Solis was found guilty by military judge alone of wrongful distribution, use, and possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to confinement for three months, hard labor without confinement for one month, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and forfeiture of $1,066 pay per month for four months. Pursuant to a pretrial agreement, the convening authority will not approve confinement in excess of two months.
29. At Holloman AFB, NM, Airman Bryce J. Spelts was found guilty by military judge alone of wrongful use of controlled substances. He was sentenced to a bad conduct discharge, confinement for two months, hard labor without confinement for two months, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and a reprimand. Pursuant to a pretrial agreement, the convening authority will not approve confinement in excess of 30 days.
Special Court-Martial Acquittals
30. At JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, an enlisted Airman was acquitted by officer members of larceny of property valued under $500.
31. At Barksdale AFB, LA, an enlisted Airman was acquitted by officer members of larceny of property valued over $500.
32. At RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom, an enlisted Airman was acquitted by officer members of false official statement and willful dereliction of duty.
33. At Ft Meade, MD, an enlisted Airman was acquitted by officer members of wrongful use of a controlled substance.
Among the matters you should consider are: [appropriate selections may be made from the following list]
The Air Force has published their court-martial results for December 2016.
They reported 19 courts-martial service wide. 17 were reported as convictions and 2 as acquittals (10%). That is a number desperate for context.
This firm is interested in cases where a military jury/panel finds the accused not guilty. There were 4 pretrial agreements. (21%). That's positive news for the Air Force defense community. They are not taking deals as frequently as the other branches. This could be because most of their cases are drug cases.
Removing the deals, the acquittal rate was about 13%. That is unusually low for December. The sexual assault acquittal rate was 33%. Two convictions and one acquittal in sexual assault cases. That is a little bit low. We've seen acquittal rates in the other branches trending between 50-60%. The conviction sentences were 5 years and 60 days. There was a pretty wide range. The Air Force tends to prosecute a number of sexual touching through closing cases. Those cases tend to result in lower punishments - but still sex offender registration. They are very serious cases for that reason.
For whatever reason, the Air Force litigates drug trials at a pace that is out of touch with the rest of society. 10 of the 19 courts were drug related. (52%). There is no way to sugar coat it. The Air Force has lost their minds on drug cases when over half of their court-martial docket involves drugs. Most of those are cases that should probably be resolved with the administrative separation process.
The one general court-martial acquittal was in a sexual assault case involving a child at Joint Base Lackland/San Antonio. In a special court-martial, an Airman in Italy was acquitted of wrongful drug use.
The Air Force clearly needs a shift in litigation philosophy. That is evident from the Special Court-Martial results. There were 13 special court convictions. They were all for very minor offenses - mostly drugs. What is most surprising is that military judges imposed confinement every single time in drug cases. The moral of the story is never go judge alone in an Air Force drug case. Air Force panels did impose confinement in a few cases, but were generally lighter.
In Part I of this blog series, I posted some data from the Department of Justice on false allegations. In Part II, I'll discuss the literature on detecting lies. In Part III, we talk about nonverbal deception and facial expressions. In Part IV, I'll talk about false confessions.
I've spent the better part of the past decade studying deception. It is a critical area of study for the lawyer who makes their living cross-examining witnesses. There is extensive literature on both verbal and non-verbal deception. For a service member accused of crimes, you want a lawyer skillful at detecting deception.
One of the most influential books for me is "Detecting Lies and Deceit - the Psychology of Lying and the Implications for Professional Practice" by Aldert Vrij. The lessons from that book have served me well as a trial lawyer. Here are some of my take aways from that book.
In terms of detecting deception, you need to understand a couple of key principles:
1: Human beings are poor at detecting deception. This is a key point, because military members on juries tend to believe that they are good at detecting deception. They have a high level of confidence in their ability to detect deceit. They can be prone to making quick judgements.
The truth and data shows they are not good at detecting deceit. For that reason, we have to be very skillful at explaining deception and motives to lie. Studies of police officers shows that they detect lies about 57% of the time. Even professionals are poor at detecting deceit.
2: Human beings are good at lying. And they lie frequently. It is estimated that people lie once in every 10 social interactions. Those lies are detected about 18% of the time.
3: Lying is an intentional act.
4: There are three ways to detect a lie. (A) Observing verbal behavior (B) Analyzing speech content and (C) Measuring physiological responses (blood pressure, heart rate, etc).
5: People lie for several broad reasons:
A: To protect themselves from embarrassment or disapproval;
B: To gain an advantage;
C: To avoid punishment (This is an important one for cases involving children. They tend to tell lies to avoid punishment);
D: For another person's benefit; and,
E: For the sake of social relationships.
6: When cross-examining and interviewing witnesses, we're looking for outright lies, exaggerations, and subtle lies. We want to be able to point out these distinctions to panel members.
7: A lie is easier to tell when the speaker has an opportunity to prepare the lie. This is another key lesson for court-martial practice. We want to illustrate to the jury - every opportunity that we get - that the government's witnesses had an opportunity to prepare their lie.
8: We want to observe the liar's personality traits as best we can. Some liars have manipulative personality traits. They do not lie if they are likely to get caught. They can be dominating in their conversation patterns. They may seem relaxed and confident. Some people are sociable or good actors. They are talented at regulating their physical appearance when lying. Other people are adapters. They have a way of trying to make a positive impression on others.
9: We want to pay careful attention to nonverbal behaviors and micro-expressions. This is difficult to do in a trial setting. However, it is immensely valuable when we can point witness micro-expressions out to the jury. There are automatic links between emotions and lying. People sometimes contort their faces in particular ways that we will discuss in Part IV.
10: We want to be aware of the mental processes that the liar is experiencing during the deception. They may be feeling guilt, fear, or excitement.
11: When the lie is complex or the liar is taken by surprise, there may be slower or faster rate of speech, speech errors, changes in pitch, sentence repetition, delays in answering, and gaze aversion to avoid distraction. They may also be very self-conscious about their behaviors and over-regulate their posture and nonverbal presentation. We're looking for shifting movements.
12: Liars in the military are not always taken by surprise. The lie is prepared. In those cases, we may be looking for a faster speech pattern and fewer speech errors.
13: In a court-martial setting, one of the best approaches - in my opinion - is in analyzing the content of the speech. This is a skill that I have really practiced over time. Here are some of the aspects of speech that I am paying close attention to:
A. Negative speech indicating aversion towards people. Things like disparaging statements;
B. Plausible answers. The truth usually makes sense.
C. Irrelevant content. We pay careful attention to people who provide irrelevant information.
D. Overgeneralized statements. Words like always and never. Military members have a tendency to abuse generalized statements.
F. Unusually direct answers.
G. Response length.
These are not all indicators of deception. These are simply aspects of speech that we are paying careful attention to.
14: The details of the offense are critical to analyze. If the details of the offense seem implausible, we want to understand why. People who lie often do not have enough information available to present a coherent story. Sometimes they want to avoid details so they do not later forget them. Often a chronological account is easier to tell than an unstructured account.
15: When I read a victim or client statement from law enforcement, I have a validity checklist:
-Inappropriate language or knowledge
-Susceptibility to suggestion - discussed more in our upcoming blog on false confessions
-Overall thoroughness of the interview
-Motives to lie
-Context of the original report
-Pressure to report
-Inconsistencies with other witnesses and evidence
Often, it is helpful to analyze other aspects of speech. An older book titled "Mannerisms of Speech and Gestures in Everyday Life" by Dr. Sandor Feldman takes a more Freudian approach to analyzing speech. Some of this analysis is helpful to the trial lawyer. Dr. Feldman analyzed common expressions.
For instance, when a person says "by the way", Dr. Feldman theorizes that the speaker is attempting to make the information appear unimportant. Or they are trying to appear as though the remembered the information incidentally.
"Needless to say" can signify ambivalence. A sentence that begins with "honestly" suggests the person is not always honest.
There is rarely a good reason for a person to say "I don't care." It's a common answer when a victim is asked about their opinion on the outcome of a case.
The phrase "of course" can be a clue to possible deception. Imagine a woman who asks her husband if he still loves her. He says, "of course." A simple yes would be more appropriate. The "of course" tells the truth in a veiled way. He loves her, but not like before. When a court-martial witness uses the phrase "of course", I usually want to delve deeper into why they said that.
Words like "only" and "just" can sometimes mask guilt or responsibility.
Those are just a few examples.
The bottom line is that it takes years of experience interviewing hundreds - maybe thousands - of people to become skilled at cross-examination. It requires us to be present in the moment, to know the evidence better than the witness, and to have good judgement in knowing what to ask and what not to ask.
In the next section, we'll discuss non-verbal cues and micro-expressions.
I was recently at Fort Carson, Colorado. I came across a flyer from the Department of Justice titled "False Allegations of Adult Crimes Reference Guide." The flyer has prompted me to write about false allegations and deception. This Part I will provide the data from the Department of Justice. The data apparently came from the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit and National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime.
The primary motivations and indicators section below provides a great resource for closing arguments in military court-martials.
The Department of Justice flyer on false allegations provided the following data on false allegations:
-Most likely white (93%)
-Majority are female (73%) male (27%)
-Average age was 30 and the most frequent age was 41
-At the time of the offense, 27% had documented mental illness (depression most common), all female
-At least 43% had a HS education/GED
Marital status by gender:
-Females, married (18%), never married (50%)
-Males, married (89%), never married 30% first marriage, 10% co-habitating/significant relationship
-Full-time employment (60%), part-time (3.3%), student (3%), unemployed (17%)
-No known substance abuse (63%), alcohol only (10%)
-Most common life problem prior to false allegation:
-Marital problems/conflict 63%
-Financial problems 33%
-Mental health issues 23%
-Unemployment/recent loss of job 13%
-27% have made at least one prior false allegation; rape/sexual assault (10%), stalking (10%), physical assault (7%), threats (7%)
-23% have been arrested at least once including charges such as theft/larceny, drugs/narcotics, trespassing, assault/battery
-In 73% of cases, the offender brought the case to the attention of law enforcement: sexual assault (73%), abduction (27%), threats (20%), stalking (17%), attempted murder (10%), extortion (7%), physical assault (7%), hate crime (3%), other (13%).
-Over half (53%) of the cases involved two types of offenses.
-In 73% of cases, there are indications of pre-planning/preparation
-Half of the offenses involved more than one location
-Evidence of physical trauma is reflected in 30% of the cases to include blunt force trauma, edged weapon, ligature strangulation, gunshot wound, burn (fire or chemical)
-Sexual trauma is rare; however, when observed there is trauma to the vaginal cavity, foreign object insertion or breast/nipple lacerations
-Evidence of staging in more than half the cases (60%) to include ransacking, vandalism, threat letters, burglary, use of explosive device, and car jacking
Primary Motivation for the Offenses
-Interpersonal violent allegations (e.g. sexual assault) were primarily motivated by attention/sympathy (50%), whereas interpersonal offenses (e.g. arson, theft) involved other motivations such as providing an alibi (17%), mental illness/depression (13%), profit (13%), and revenge (7%)
-Conduct 2 prong investigation
-Continue logical investigation to determine if there is, in fact, a legitimate offender
-Conduct discrete, parallel investigation to determine/identify the life problems of the false allegation offender
-The interview strategy is depending on the motivation of the offender. An investigator would approach an offender motivated by internal need for attention/sympathy far differently than one motivated by financial gain or revenue
-Emphasize the life problems of the offender
Possible Indicators of False Allegations
-Inconsistent statements by the offender
-Deception on polygraph
-Witness statements that conflict with the offender
-Lack of plausibility in the deception of the reported offense
-Lack of substantiating forensic, physical, and/or medical evidence"
For the first time on this blog, we take a look at Air Force courts-martial results for September 2016. The Air Force posts results at:
Results are organized by forum and result. The other branches organize the data by circuit. We analyze the data collectively.
The Air Force reported 32 General and Special Courts in September. There were 5 acquittals. (15%). That number is desperate for some context.
The Air Force does not report whether a case was resolved through a guilty plea. It's critical information for policy makers to know the cost and extent of pleas in the military.
There were only 8 jury trials.
Air Force numbers are probably skewed relative to the other services. 16 cases were drug related. (50%). That's just ridiculous. Drug cases in other branches that would likely result in administrative separations are resulting in criminal convictions in the Air Force.
The numbers are really tough to analyze because of the quality of data. But, acquittals in 5 out of 8 jury trials is not bad. (62%).