Legal Question in Military Law in Florida

My son was court martialed in August for possession of child pornogrophy that was downloaded on his computer through Limewire while he was downloading music. He deleted these images but didn't know they were put into a shared folder. (He didn't read the terms and conditions when downloading Limewire on his computer) Because the images were in the shared folder he received 16 months his rank went from E4 to E1 without pay after being a Seabee for 6 years. He will have to register as a sex offender as well. This was unjust and under the circumstances he should have been given a lower rank but not lose his future with the Military. Limewire has since been shut down. What are his chances when he gets out and returns home? Can he re-enlist, does Florida law follow the UCMJ and what are his chances of employment in the civilian world? He had officers of 20+ at the court martial give him the highest rating and commended him highly stating he was an asset to the Navy and it would be a great loss to lose him, he has a letter of commendation and many ribbons and medals including two NATO medals. He has many character reference letters and none of these seemed to help him during his court martial. His attorney told him to take a plea deal and he did without getting advice from family or another attorney. The State and Feds said they couldn't find anything on him but since he was in the Military that they had to turn everything over to them and the Military would make their decision. He told us after he accepted the plea deal and then it was too late. We couldn't afford a civilian attorney so he was given a military public defender that was new and didn't know much about trying these cases. Please give me some insight if possible. Thank you

Asked on 3/10/11, 10:31 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

William J. Holmes Attorney at Military Law

I am sorry about what happened to your son. Unfortunately, his story is not uncommon. Many military defense attorneys are new and do not know how to defend a case. Thus, they often persuade their clients to plead guilty. Did your son receive a discharge or just the reduction and loss of pay? This will determine what will happen to him, but he likely will not be able to reenlist or have any future with the military.

What he needs to do now is to try to appeal the court-martial. There is an appeal process in the military where he can try to undo some or all of the damage whichh has occurred. He will need to get his record of trial and all paperwork relating to his court-martial. Then an attorney can review everything and decide what can be raised on appeal to try to get the sentence and/or conviction overturned.

I hope this has answered your questions. If you or your son have any further questions, please feel free to contact me directly.

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Answered on 3/10/11, 10:59 am

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