Turner Continues Battle Against Sexual Assault in FY 2014 NDAA
Enhances Rights of Victims, Establishes Minimum Sentences
Congressman Mike Turner, Co-Chair of the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus, has included a number of provisions in the House Armed Services Committee approved National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to combat sexual assault in the military. For several years, Turner has included provisions to put a stop to this crime which recent statistics show have impacted 26,000 of our men and women in uniform over the past year. The provisions in the FY 2014 NDAA enhances the rights of victims, establishes minimum sentences for those convicted of sexual assault, and looks at how commanders handle these cases.
“I am proud of the bipartisan and bicameral work that has gone into these provisions. This is a crime which affects the morale and welfare of our men and women in uniform. Too often victims are re-victimized by the system. I look forward to joining my colleagues in the full House in approving these provisions and working with the Senate in crafting a final bill,” said Turner.
Victims Counsel Amendment
Section 536—Victims' Counsel for Victims of Sex-Related Offenses and Related Provisions
This section would require Victims' Counsels, who would be qualified and specially trained lawyers in each of the Armed Forces, to be made available to provide legal assistance to victims of sex-related offenses, which include rape and sexual assault, stalking, and rape and sexual assault of a child. The legal assistance authorized by this section would include accompanying the victim at any proceedings related to the reporting, military investigation, and military prosecution of the sex-related offense, as well as legal consultation on the military justice system, the potential criminal liability of the victim stemming from the sex related offense, the Victim Witness Assistance Program, potential civil litigation by the victim, medical support, and mental health counseling. This section would allow the victim the option of declining the assistance without prejudicing a later decision to seek such assistance.
This section would require Victim's Counsels to be available within 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act. This section would also require the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security, to provide the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives with a report on how the Armed Forces will implement this section. The report would be due within 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act. Furthermore, this section would require the independent Response Systems Panel, established by section 576(a)(1) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (Public Law 112-239) to assess whether the legal assistance authorized by this section should be expanded to include legal standing to represent the victim during investigative and military justice proceedings. Finally, this section would task the independent Judicial Proceedings Panel established by section 576(a)(2) of the cited public law to assess the implementation and effect of the Victims' Counsel program established by this section.
Sexual Assault Mandatory Minimum Sentences
Section 533—Discharge or Dismissal for Certain Sex-Related Offenses and Trial of Offenses by General Courts-Martial
This section would establish dismissal (for officers, commissioned warrant officers, cadets, and midshipmen) or dishonorable discharge (for enlisted personnel and warrant officers who are not commissioned) as the mandatory minimum sentence for a person subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice who is convicted by court-martial of rape, sexual assault, forcible sodomy, or an attempt to commit those offenses. Given such mandatory minimum sentences, this section would also limit jurisdiction for trial of the cited offenses to only a general court-martial.
The changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice made by this section would be effective 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act and apply to offenses committed after that date. This section would also require the Independent Response Systems Panel established by section 576(a)(1) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (Public Law 112-239) to assess the appropriateness of establishing additional mandatory minimum sentences for other offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Furthermore, this section would require the independent Judicial Proceedings Panel established by section 576(a)(2) of Public Law 112-239 to assess the implementation and effect of mandatory minimum sentences established by this section.
i. (1) repeal convening authority’s ability to (a) to dismiss any charge or specification by setting aside a finding of guilty thereto; or (b) to change a finding of guilty to a charge or specification to a finding of guilty to an offense that is a lesser included offense of the offense stated in the charge or specification except in cases of qualified offenses; and
ii. (2)Require convening authority or other person acting on the case under section 860 of this title to provide written justification for any modifications or setting aside of any portion of the adjudged sentence; and
iii. (3) Repeal the Convening Authority’s ability to modify an adjudged sentence beyond the minimum mandatory sentence for any charge or specification for which a minimum mandatory sentence exists.
iv. B. Amend Article 71(d) to require convening authority or other person acting on the case under section 860 of this title to provide written justification for any decision to suspend the execution of any sentence or part thereof.
Section 531—Limitations on Convening Authority Discretion Regarding Court-Martial Findings and Sentence
This section would amend section 860 of title 10 of the United States Code, to remove the command prerogative and sole discretion of the court-martial convening authority with regard to the findings and sentence of a court-martial. Specifically, with regard to the findings of a court-martial, the section would prohibit the convening authority from dismissing a finding, or from reducing a guilty finding to guilty of a lesser included offense, except for minor offenses. This section would define a minor offense as any in which the adjudged court-martial sentence was not more than 30 days' confinement, or forfeiture of two-thirds pay per month for one month, or reduction to the lowest grade, or a combination of those.
Regardless of the adjudged sentence, this section would exclude the offenses of murder, rape, sexual assault, rape or sexual assault of a child, or any other offense punishable by death from being considered a minor offense. With regard to sentences, this section would continue to authorize the convening authority to approve, disapprove, commute, or suspend a sentence in whole or in part, except where the offense had a mandatory minimum sentence. In such cases, this section would prohibit the convening authority from reducing, disapproving, commuting, or suspending an adjudged mandatory minimum sentence, except when, upon the recommendation of the trial counsel, the accused provided substantial cooperation in the investigation or the prosecution of another person who had committed an offense. Under such circumstances, the convening authority could impose a sentence below that of the mandatory minimum sentence, or disapprove, commute, or suspend the adjudged sentence in whole or in part.
Furthermore, when an adjudged sentence includes punishments in addition to the mandatory minimum sentence, this section would permit the convening authority to modify, disapprove, commute, or suspend those additional punishments. Finally, this section would require that if the convening authority acted to change a finding or sentence, then the convening authority's written rationale for the action would be provided at the same time and made part of the record of trial.
Coast Guard STRONG
Section 534—Regulations Regarding Consideration of Application for Permanent Change of Station or
Unit Transfer by Victims of Sexual Assault
This section would require the Secretary concerned to issue regulations to provide for timely determination and action on an application for consideration of a change of station or unit transfer submitted by a member of the Armed Forces serving on Active Duty who is a victim of sexual assault.
Elimination of Five-Year Statute of Limitations on Trial by Court-Martial for Additional Offenses Involving Sex-Related Crimes
Section 532—Elimination of Five-Year Statute of Limitations on Trial by Court-Martial for Additional Offenses Involving Sex-Related Crimes
This section would add sexual assault and sexual assault of a child, offenses covered respectively by section 920(b) and section 920b(b) of title 10, United States Code, to the list of offenses in the Uniform Code of Military Justice that may be tried and punished at any time without limitation. This section would apply to offenses committed on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.
Temporary Administrative Reassignment or Removal of Military Personnel Accused of Committing Sexual Assault or Related Offense
Section 535—Consideration of Need for, and Authority to Provide for, Temporary Administrative Reassignment or Removal of a Member on Active Duty Who is Accused of Committing a Sexual Assault or Related Offense
This section would authorize the Secretary concerned to provide guidance for commanders regarding authority for temporary reassignment or removal of an individual from a position of authority who is alleged to have committed a sexual assault or other sex-related offense under section 920, 920a, 920b or 920c of title 10 United States Code. Further, this section would require the Secretary of Defense to include information on the use of such authority as part of training for new and prospective commanders.
Section 538—Secretary Defense Report on Role of Commanders in Military Justice Process
This section would require the Secretary of Defense to assess the current role and authorities of commanders in the administration of military justice and the investigation, prosecution, and adjudication of offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. This section would also require the Secretary to report the assessment, together with his recommendation whether the role and authorities of commanders should be further modified or repealed, to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives within 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.
The No Tolerance Act
Enhanced Protections for Prospective Members of the Armed Forces During Entry-Level Processing and Training
Mandatory Processing for Administrative Separation for those in Violation of this Inappropriate Relationship Policy
Proposed Uniform Code of Military Justice Punitive Article