Military service puts unique pressure on both those in uniform and their families. Individuals returning from tours of duty may be contending with PTSD or have difficulty re-acclimating to home life. In some instances, this may lead to violence in the home. As of 2019, the Uniform Code of Military Justice defines domestic violence as a crime. This means that a domestic violence charge may result in a court martial and other disciplinary action, up to and including discharge from service.

Between 2015 and 2019, the Department of Defense recorded more than 42,000 incidents of domestic abuse, although the actual number is believed to be higher. More than half of these incidents involved physical abuse. Under the Family Advocacy Program (FAP), the military investigates these reported cases of domestic violence and provides counseling, treatment and other forms of assistance to the families involved. However, the program is not confidential. Any finding of actual or perceived domestic violence must be reported to the military command.

Upon receiving a report of domestic abuse, commanding officers are required to investigate and potentially refer service members for prosecution. The severity of the abuse, the injuries caused and whether the abuse was a single incident or multiple events are some of the factors that will go into determining how to proceed with each case. Protecting victims is the top priority throughout the process.

Investigations into domestic violence may involve both military and civilian authorities, depending on the location and time of the abuse. A military investigation and accompanying disciplinary action will not preclude local governments from filing charges as well. Likewise, a conviction of domestic abuse from a state or local government could be grounds for court martial, even if the action did not happen on a military base or in the course of service.

A domestic abuse conviction or investigation could derail a career in the military, including a reduction in rank or a discharge from service. This is one reason FAP provides treatment, counseling, and intervention services for service members and their families who are involved in domestic violence situations.

The military offers both emergency travel expenses and temporary financial support to victims of domestic violence. These programs are intended to enable families to escape an abusive situation and help them gain the financial support necessary to embark on a new chapter.

A domestic violence charge could permanently derail your military career. Seeking help when accusations of abuse are lodged against you, including an experienced legal team, can help protect your career and ensure you and your family receive the help and support you need.

If you are a servicemember are facing a domestic violence charge, contact the Roseville, California firm of Strategic Law Command. We can help you understand the charges against you and build a strong defense. Call us at 916-787-1234 or contact us online.