By, Mathew B. Tully
Q. I’ve been charged with a sex crime. If convicted, will I have to register as a sex offender?
A. Department of Defense Instruction 1325.07 outlines several types of sex crimes that carry sex offender registration requirements. Generally, the instruction notes, Uniform Code of Military Justice offenses under Article 120 and 134 that do not require sex offender registration involve “public sex acts between consenting adults.”
The list of offenses that carry sex offender reporting requirements under the recently revised UCMJ include rape, sexual assault, aggravated sexual contact, rape of a child, sexual assault of a child, sexual abuse of a child, indecent viewing, visual recording or broadcasting, and forcible pandering. Several other offenses established under the UCMJ before its 2012 revision are also subject to these reporting requirements.
Service members usually have three days to register as a sex offender after being released from confinement, or three days after conviction if they were not confined. They must register with local authorities wherever they live, work or attend school, so long as they are in the U.S. or any of its territories.
DoDI 1325.07 does not provide an exhaustive list of offenses, so even if troops are convicted of an offense not listed in the instruction, they’re not automatically off the hook. Reporting requirements vary among local jurisdictions.
Since its decision in U.S. v. Timothy E. Miller (2006), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces has required trial defense counsel to inform defendants before the trial’s start about the sex offender registration consequences associated with charged offenses.
More recently, in U.S. v. Cassandra M. Riley (2013), the CAAF held that court-martial judges also must ensure defendants have been properly made aware of any sex offender registry consequences associated with a guilty plea to charged sex offenses.
The Riley case involved an Army private who dressed up as a nurse at a mother/baby unit at a Fort Hood, Texas, medical center. When one mother was in the bathroom, the private took the woman’s baby. The mother found the private attempting to place the baby in a backpack.
The private later pleaded guilty to and was convicted of kidnapping a minor. However, the private did not learn until several months later that her conviction would require her to register as a sex offender. She filed an appeal to the CAAF, saying she would not have entered the plea agreement had she been aware of this consequence.
Ultimately, the CAAF found the court-martial judge abused his discretion by accepting the private’s plea without making sure her defense counsel had notified her about the sex offender registry consequences of her plea. CAAF reversed the lower court’s ruling, set the findings and sentence aside and said a rehearing could be ordered.