FORT MEADE, Md. -- A host of changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice
became effective on 01 January 2019, modernizing definitions for many offenses,
adjusting maximum penalties, standardizing court-martial panels, creating new
computer-crime laws, and much more.
The changes strike a balance between protecting the rights of the accused and
empowering commanders to effect good order and discipline, said Col. Sara Root,
chief of the Army's Military Justice Legislation Training Team.
One of the changes replaces the offense of adultery with "extra-marital sexual
conduct." The new offense broadens the definition of sexual intercourse, which
now includes same-sex affairs. The amendments also now provide legal separation
as a defense.
In the past, service members could be charged with adultery even if they had been
legally separated for years but were not divorced. Now legal separation from a court
of competent jurisdiction can be used as an affirmative defense, Root said.
Also in the past, prosecutors had to prove traditional intercourse to obtain a
conviction for adultery, Root said. Now oral sex and other types of sexual
intercourse are included.
PROTECTING JUNIOR SOLDIERS
UCMJ Article 93a provides stiffer penalties for recruiters, drill sergeants and others in
"positions of special trust" convicted of abusing their authority over recruits or trainees.
The maximum sentence was increased from two years to five years of confinement
for those in authority engaging in prohibited sexual activities with junior Soldiers. And
it doesn't matter if the sex is consensual or not, Root said, it's still a crime.
Article 132 also protects victims and those reporting crimes from retaliation. An
adverse personnel action -- such as a bad NCO Evaluation Report, if determined to
be solely for reprisal --- can get the person in authority up to three years confinement
without pay and a dishonorable discharge.
Other changes include, the definition of burglary has changed to include breaking and
entering any building or structure of another, anytime, with the intent to commit any
offense under the UCMJ. In the past, burglary was limited to breaking and entering the
dwelling house of another in the nighttime.
The penalty for wearing unauthorized medals of valor has increased from 6 months to
a max of one-year confinement along with forfeiture of pay and a bad-conduct
discharge. This includes wearing an unauthorized Medal of Honor, Distinguished
Service Cross, Silver Star, Purple Heart, or valor device. The maximum penalty for
wearing any other unauthorized medal is still only six months.
Regarding misconduct that occurred prior to Jan. 1, the changes to the punitive articles
are not retroactive, Root said. However, some of the procedural changes will apply to
cases that were not referred to trial before Jan. 1.
See also Manual for Courts-Martial>>
|Changes to military justice system
Changes to military justice system in 2019
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