Court-martial dismisses assault charges due to lack of evidence | Law Offices of David P. Sheldon
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Court-martial dismisses assault charges due to lack of evidence

In several recent posts, we’ve discussed the benefits of consulting with a private law firm regarding sexual assault allegations.

One benefit of having a private attorney is the absence of any conflict of interest. Whereas a commanding officer is typically the first in the chain-of-command to be notified regarding an alleged criminal incident, a private attorney has no relationship with any of the parties. A service member can place his or her confidence in an outside attorney without any fear of reprisals or retaliation.

A recent court-martial outcome illustrates another important benefit of using a private attorney: litigation strategy. The victim, a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy, had accused a sophomore classmate of groping her after class in a classroom. The accusation led to charges of one count of conduct unbecoming an officer and three counts of sexual assault.

A court-martial was convened to decide the criminal charges. The accused’s defense strategy focused on discrepancies in the alleged victim’s account. The alleged victim apparently had no other evidence than her own testimony, and she admitted that the accused had left the classroom after she voiced objection. The accused also waived his right to a trial by a panel of officers, opting instead for a decision solely by the judge, which would be called a bench trial in the civilian context. The overall strategy worked, as the judge acquitted the accused of all charges.

Our military defense law firm has represented many clients at general courts-martial, special courts-martial and summary courts-martial. Our advocacy begins the moment we are contacted. That means our law firm will fight to protect a service member’s rights during his or her Article 32 investigation, as well any related preliminary and/or subsequent proceedings related to the court-martial.

Source:, “Cadet Acquitted in Sexual Assault Court-Martial at Air Force Academy,” Tom Roeder, Oct. 13, 2016

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