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Misconduct in the military: How bad is it, really?

As has been noted in past select blog posts and by a continuing stream of media articles over the past few months, a number of national legislators have been hammering hard on the military. Their central allegation is that too many servicemembers are committing crimes and being unpunished by military authorities.

Some critics of that view have countered that it is less than balanced and can easily result in a skewed picture of the military environment, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and commanders’ responses to alleged criminal activities within their purview.

One legal authority on military justice says that crime-related problems in the military might actually be overstated presently because misconduct “is in vogue right now.”

What that means is this: Many critics are demanding that more criminal cases be brought across all branches, accompanied by harsher and swifter punishment.

There is no question that crime needs to be punished, but a legitimate fear of overreach and even hysteria can attach in a climate marked by strong accusations of violence run amok.

A recent article on military justice indicates that, while courts-martial proceedings have been dropping in recent years, some commanders are upping their use of administrative separation to simply oust members charged with relatively low-level offenses.

The concern understandably harbored by some military commentators is that the current atmosphere stressing harsher discipline in the military might potentially result in high numbers of servicemembers being ushered out of the service for even trivial offenses.

It is thus an imperative -- as always -- that any military member charged with a crime or appearing before a military discharge board have a proven and seasoned UCMJ defense attorney at his or her side to ensure fundamental fairness and help promote a just legal outcome.

Source: MilitaryTimes, “Is military justice going soft? Why courts-martial, NJPs have hit historic lows,” Andrew Tighman, May 22, 2014

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