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Rights for Civilian Victims of Military Sexual Assault

This section applies to you if you fit one of the following descriptions:

  • You have never served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • You are a DOD employee or civilian military contractor (or a dependent of either) currently stationed or performing duties outside of the U.S.

AND

  • You experienced sexual violence perpetrated by a service member at any point during the perpetrator’s active-duty period of service.
  • You are not a DOD ID cardholder.

You have the following rights:

Your rights during the reporting process:

  1. You have the right to report your sexual assault.
    1. As a civilian, you are only eligible to file an Unrestricted Report. This means that the perpetrator’s chain of command will be notified of the report and the service branch’s investigative division will launch an investigation into the incident.[1]
  2. You have the right to choose to report to the military or civilian authorities. You can choose to report to either jurisdiction, regardless of where the crime occurred. However, jurisdiction is ultimately determined between the military and civilian authorities.[2] If you do choose to report to the civilian authorities, you can find more information about your rights in that system on our related page: Resources for Civilian Victims of Sexual Assault.
  3. You have the right to be notified of your rights as soon as you report the incident to the military.
    1. A Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocate (SAPR VA), or other office will provide you with a preliminary list of your rights and information about the reporting process:
      1. The availability of emergency medical and social services and victim advocacy services
      2. Information about restitution or other relief and how you may request such relief.
      3. Information about public and private programs that are available to provide counseling, treatment, and other support, including available compensation through Federal, State, and local agencies.
      4. Information about obtaining arrangements to receive reasonable protection from threat, harm, or intimidation from a suspected offender.
      5. Information regarding your right to request a military and/or civilian protective order, as appropriate.
      6. Information about the military criminal justice process, the role of the victim in the process, and how the victim can obtain additional information concerning the process and the case.[3]
  4. You have the right to pursue court-martial charges against the offender through filing an Unrestricted Report.[4]
  5. You have the right to obtain civilian counsel to represent you throughout your case. If you are interested in obtaining civilian counsel, POD has a pro bono legal services program that you can apply to here.
  6. You have the right to be protected from the offender by requesting a civilian restraining order, military protective order (MPO), or temporary shelter if safety is a concern and the offender is released before trial.
    1. NOTE: An MPO is NOT enforceable by civilian authorities off base and victims desiring protection off base should also seek a civilian protective order (CPO) within their local jurisdiction.[5]

If you are a DOD employee or civilian military contractor (or a dependent of either) currently stationed or performing duties outside of the U.S., you have the following additional rights:

  1. You have the right to limited services from a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) or Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocate (SAPR VA) who will serve as your point of contact for coordinating your care. You may request that your SARC/SAPR VA be present when law enforcement or the military prosecutor interviews you.[6]
  2. You have the right to a safety assessment conducted by a SARC/SAPR VA or other individual whose involvement would not trigger an Unrestricted Report if you are also eligible for SAPR services, even if you are not physically located on the installation.[7]

Your rights during the military investigation:

  1. You have the right to be updated on the progress of the investigation, including the arrest of the suspected offender and/or a decision not to pursue further investigation.[8]
  2. You have a right to be notified in advance of public preliminary hearings, pretrial confinement hearings, and court proceedings.[9]
  3. You have the right to confer with the prosecutor (trial counsel) regarding a decision not to prosecute, pre-trial confinement of the accused, and for an explanation of the court-martial process.[10]
  4. You have the right to be present and heard at the pretrial confinement hearing. This may be done telephonically, by video conference, by written statement, or through private counsel.[11]
  5. You have the right to be present and/or to decline to testify at a pretrial hearing (Article 32). You may be excluded only if the hearing officer finds your testimony might be influenced by attending the hearing.[12]
  6. You have the right to have your sexual and medical history protected at pretrial hearing.[13]
  7. You have the right to request a copy of the pretrial hearing (Article 32) transcript.[14]

Your rights during the court-martial & sentencing process:

  1. You have the right to be notified of the conviction, sentencing, imprisonment, Convening Authority’s appellate review, and release of the offender.”[15]
  2. You have the right to be present at court-martial. You may be excluded only if the judge finds your testimony might be influenced by attending the court-martial.[16]
  3. You have the right to be heard by the court at the pre-sentencing hearing, including testifying as to how the crime has affected you (any emotional, physical, and financial suffering you experienced). You may deliver a statement in person or in writing. The judge must approve the content of your statement before it is made available to the panel.[17]
  4. You have the right to have mental health records and sexual history protected from open court.[18]
  5. You have the right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay.[19]
  6. You have the right to request restitution as a condition of a pretrial agreement to plead guilty to an offense, or as a condition of clemency or parole.[20]
  7. You have the right to accommodations during the court-martial process including assistance with transportation, parking, childcare, lodging, and translators/interpreters if necessary. If the court-martial is to take place in a different country than where you currently reside, transportation must be made available if you are testifying at trial.[21]
  8. You have the right to be notified of a sentence and general information regarding the minimum release date, parole, clemency, and mandatory supervised release, when applicable.[22]

Your rights following a court-martial:

    1. You have the right to be informed of post-trial rights/processes.[23]
    2. You have the right to request a transcript of the trial.[24]
    3. You have the right to present a written statement to the convening authority after the sentence is announced during the court-martial. The convening authority will ultimately determine whether to impose the original recommended sentence or to reduce the sentence. The convening authority cannot overturn a finding of guilty in a sexual assault case or issue a more severe sentence than what was recommended at court-martial.[25]
    4. You have the right to be notified of convening authority’s actions, including any sentence reduction.[26]
    5. You have the right to be notified of the offender’s confinement location, including transfer to another facility, parole, escape, release from confinement, or death while in confinement. [27]
    6. You have the right to be notified of release hearings and offender release.[28]
    7. You have the right to be notified of appellate actions, including advance notification of the date and time of any appellate courtroom hearings, and the final decision of any appellate court or judge advocate review.[29]
    8. You have the right to be present and heard at release hearings.[30]
    9. You have the right to have property held as evidence returned to you as expeditiously as possible.[31]

 

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Footnotes & Sources

[1] Department of Defense Instruction 6495.02 Enclosure 4

[2] DOD MOU 938(c)(2) (1984);  R.C.M. 201(d)(1); R.C.M. 201(d)(2)

[3] DD Form 2701; DOD Instruction 1030.2

[4] DOD Instruction 1030.2

[5] DD Form 2701

[6] Department of Defense Instruction 6495.02 Enclosure 2

[7] Department of Defense Instruction 6495.02

[8] DOD Instruction 1030.2

[9] DOD Victim Bill of Rights

[10] DOD Victim Bill of Rights

[11] R.C.M. 305(i)(2)(A)(iv); DOD Victim Bill of Rights

[12] DOD Victim Bill of Rights; DD Form 2702

[13] M.R.E. 412

[14] R.C.M. 405(k)(5)

[15] DOD Victim Bill of Rights

[16] DOD Victim Bill of Rights; DD Form 2702

[17] DD Form 2702; R.C.M. 1001(c)

[18] M.R.E. 412; M.R.E. 513

[19] DOD Victim Bill of Rights

[20] DOD Victim Bill of Rights

[21] DOD Instruction 1030.2

[22] DOD Instruction 1030.2

[23] DOD Instruction 1030.2

[24] DD Form 2703

[25] DOD Victim Bill of Rights; 10 U.S.C. § § 859-876; R.C.M 1106A

[26] DD Form 2703

[27] DD Form 2703

[28] DD Form 2702

[29] DD Form 2703

[30] DOD Victim Bill of Rights

[31] DD Form 2703