Article 119 UCMJ Manslaughter
Manslaughter (Article 119) and negligent homicide (Article 134) are some of the most serious types of cases that lead to court-martial. These typically involve fatal vehicle accidents and accidental discharge of firearms. However, not every tragedy has a villain.
Every case with a named victim is emotional for those affected, but when death is involved, the stakes are much higher. These cases are complicated and can receive high levels of media attention. Military authorities may feel a need to set a strong example to prove a point to the local community and to a family who has lost a loved one. Most military defense attorneys do not have experience dealing with these scenarios, but we do.
Related charges may include reckless endangerment (Article 114) and dereliction of duty resulting in death (Article 92). We have seen clients charged with all these offenses in a single case based on the same facts. Collectively, the punishment could include years of confinement and a dishonorable discharge. The facts will vary from case to case, including:
- Drunk or distracted driving
- Texting while driving
- Driving faster than the posted speed limit
- Driving on unfamiliar roads
- Failure to follow regulations
- Accidental discharge of a firearm
These cases involve complex scientific fields. An experienced military defense attorney will know how to request government funding for the necessary experts, and they will know how to use these experts to present your best defense. We have worked with experts in these cases, including:
- Accident reconstruction
- Human factors
- Forensic psychology
- Digital forensics
A key issue in death cases is “proximate cause.” The government must prove the accused’s actions played a substantial role in bringing about the death of the victim. Contributory negligence by the deceased is not a defense, but it may be powerful evidence to reduce the severity of the outcome. If the defense can prove an “intervening cause,” that is, something completely outside the control of the accused, this may result in a not guilty finding.
While these cases are tragic, not every tragedy has a villain. At Military Law, our experienced team of military defense lawyers and investigators will explore every avenue. We will never stop fighting for your best result.