Domestic violence cases in Texas are always complicated. But when military personnel are involved in the case, the situation becomes even more challenging. A situation may be investigated by both military and civilian authorities. One set of officials might decide not to pursue a case while the others reach a different decision.
If you have been accused of domestic violence while serving in the military, the ramifications can affect your entire life, even if you are not convicted. It is important to take your defense seriously and get advice from an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Different Laws May Apply
A domestic violence case involving military personnel could be decided under different laws depending on which authorities are prosecuting the case. If the military handles the case, the regulations of the particular branch of the service will determine how domestic violence is defined and penalized. The case could be prosecuted as a violation of federal criminal law or the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It is important to work with a defense attorney who is familiar with these situations and the variations in law that may apply.
For instance, the Army says that someone commits domestic violence when they commit an act that is offense under either the U.S. Code, The Uniform Code of Military Justice, or state law, if that act involves the use, attempted use, or threatened use of force or violence and the act is committed against a current or former partner. This means that it may be necessary to defend against a crime as defined under three different areas of law.
Beware of the Consequences of Military Separations
When a domestic violence case is handled by military prosecutors, it may be difficult to understand the procedures and the state of the investigation. The process can be subjected to heightened security and the rights of the person accused may not be the same as in civilian situations.
In some cases, the military court system offers service members the option to have their case dropped if they ask for administrative separation from service. This may seem like a win, similar to a dismissal in a regular criminal case. However, administrative separations can have lifelong consequences.
This is usually treated as an “other than honorable discharge” by the military. When a servicemember takes administrative separation, they can never again serve in the military. If the discharge is considered to be under “other than honorable” conditions, then that service member loses access to all VA benefits earned for that period of service.
Depending on the situation, administrative separation may be the right choice. However, it is important to understand the other options and the strength of the case against you before accepting this option.
Understand Your Best Options for Defense
Regardless of who is handling the case, there are some important factors to keep in mind. First, anyone accused of domestic violence must take care to avoid saying or doing something that could jeopardize their defense. If there is a protective order in place, it is vital to understand the terms and how to comply. Violating the order compounds the offense and can weaken defense arguments. It is wise to go over the terms of the order with your defense attorney and discuss actions you can and cannot take under the order.
Next, it is helpful to collect evidence that can demonstrate that either the offense did not happen or that there were reasons to justify what happened. Consider carefully whether anyone may have heard or seen what happened or events leading up to the incident. Save any messages or communications from before or after the event.
When you discuss matters with your attorney, always be honest and fully transparent. Your attorney can only build your best defense when they have accurate information. It can be embarrassing to admit some details, but it is far better that your attorney be aware of them in advance to create a strategy to handle the issues if they come up later. You don’t want your legal team surprised with negative evidence later.
The Experienced and Dedicated Defense Attorneys at Barbieri Law Firm Fight to Protect Your Future
Even if the allegations are completely false, domestic violence accusations can easily ruin your life. You need to take proactive steps to defend yourself and your future, particularly if your situation involves complicated factors such as military service.
The dedicated legal team at Barbieri Law is ready to assist. Get started on your defense now by calling 972-424-1902 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.