Domestic Violence & The Military

Accusations of domestic violence, especially threats of violence, are not uncommon during divorce. Sadly, due to the pressure and stress brought on by divorce, spouses can make exaggerated or misleading claims of domestic violence. This is a serious danger for anyone, but especially for men and women who serve in the military. A conviction for domestic violence could end your career in the military.

domestic violence and the military

KEEP YOUR COOL

All service members going through divorce need to fully understand the lasting consequences that even an accusation of domestic violence can have on their lives and future. Orders of protection, restraining orders, and even arrests for domestic violence can come from words spoken in anger and taken as a verbal threat. Don’t ever hesitate to walk away from a heated situation. Take a deep breath when you feel overwhelmed, and figure out what you need to do to keep your cool. Always avoid any situation with your spouse or ex that may lead to a physical confrontation.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CONVICTIONS

A service member who is convicted of domestic violence faces a range of adverse consequences, including state law responses and remedies. A service member may be disciplined by the military, up to and including a court martial, for engaging in domestic violence. A domestic violence conviction can impact future promotions and the longevity of your career.

KEEP YOUR COOL

All service members going through divorce need to fully understand the lasting consequences that even an accusation of domestic violence can have on their lives and future. Orders of protection, restraining orders, and even arrests for domestic violence can come from words spoken in anger and taken as a verbal threat. Don’t ever hesitate to walk away from a heated situation. Take a deep breath when you feel overwhelmed, and figure out what you need to do to keep your cool. Always avoid any situation with your spouse or ex that may lead to a physical confrontation.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CONVICTIONS

A service member who is convicted of domestic violence faces a range of adverse consequences, including state law responses and remedies. A service member may be disciplined by the military, up to and including a court martial, for engaging in domestic violence. A domestic violence conviction can impact future promotions and the longevity of your career.

MILITARY PROTECTIVE ORDERS

The military takes charges of domestic violence extremely seriously. The military justice system often works faster than civilian courts. If you have been accused before military authorities of domestic violence, you will have less opportunity to appear in court and challenge the charges than in civilian cases. It’s always best to avoid any situation that could result in an accusation of domestic violence.

Commanding officers may issue military protective orders, which are similar to civilian orders of protection. These orders can include a prohibition on the service member contacting a domestic violence victim, or ordering the service member to reside in the barracks. Military protective orders require no advance notice to the service member or hearing. Military protective orders are not enforceable in civilian courts, but violating such an order is a violation of a direct order and carries the military penalties associated with such. The issuing of military protective orders does not preclude a civilian court from issuing orders of protection. Service members can be under both military protective orders and civilian orders of protection at the same time.

Once a domestic violence report is made, the commanding officer may order the service member and family to participate in the Family Advocacy Program, where a Case Review Committee will find the domestic violence allegations substantiated, suspected, or unsubstantiated.

LAUTENBERG AMENDMENT

Under the Lautenberg Amendment, anyone, including a service member, with a misdemeanor conviction of domestic violence is barred from possessing or using firearms. If a service member is convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, he or she is not allowed to possess or use a gun, even in the course of standard military duties. Similarly, it is a crime for anyone, including other service members, to give an offending service member a gun.

If a service member is required to be proficient in firearm use and demonstrate such, be ready to stand guard, or be able to perform any other activity requiring the possession of a firearm, this prohibition can lead to a discharge for inability to perform duties.

In other words, under the Lautenberg Amendment, a domestic violence conviction can end your service career.

ISSUES DUE TO MILITARY SERVICE

As a member of the armed services, you risk life and limb to keep America safe. Over the course of your service, you have experienced traumatic events few civilians could ever comprehend. Military service takes a tremendous physical and emotional toll. As a result of your dedicated service to our country, you may bare physical and emotional scars. You may suffer from conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Your spouse may be tempted to use the emotional wounds you suffered in war to paint you as an unfit parent, claim you are a threat to others, or even accuse you of domestic violence.

If there has, in fact, been domestic violence and there is justification for court protection, you still have rights and it is important that you have an attorney and an advocate to ensure the restrictions placed on you are fair.

If a protective order has been entered against you, it’s very important that you totally comply with the order, even if you disagree with it. DO NOT violate the court order; you can fight legally to change it. You do not need to suffer untrue accusations silently.