Anyone facing criminal accusations has to think about their future. This being said though, for those in the military, not only does a service member have to worry about damage to their personal and professional reputation and prison time, but also depending on the crime, he or she could be saying goodbye to their future military career.
Take for example the recent court-martial trial involving a 28-year-old Coast Guard officer. The officer was facing several counts related to alleged sexual assault, including indecent conduct, aggravated sexual assault and adultery. A guilty conviction would have meant years in prison.
In the end though, he was cleared of these counts. Instead, in relation to having sex with a crew member, the petty officer was found guilty of "violating a lawful order." While this means he will avoid jail time, it should be noted his sentence is a one-grade pay reduction. His attorney said this will equate to a reduction in pay of a couple hundred dollars per month.
His defense attorney also went on to say how the facts in this case were not all adding up, saying the charges did not make sense and that there were credibility issues with witnesses. There was also some concern as to how the investigation was handled, even stating there was a "witch-hunt atmosphere" tied to the whole case.
In general, while we may all like to think that all investigations are thorough, the truth is that mistakes are made and certain facts could be overlooked. For a military member facing a serious charge, such as sexual assault, it could feel like his or her world is crumbling. The important thing to realize during a time like this though is that a military member does not need to figure out how to proceed alone. Rather, this is where a defense attorney can step in. At such a crucial time -- with so much on the line -- this attorney can conduct their own investigation, building a case to support the defense and expose any potential weaknesses in the case.