Congress recently passed – and the President will likely soon sign – the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019. The bill includes a small number of military justice provisions, including:
Sec. 532. Punitive article on domestic violence under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (note: the final text is a significant improvement over the initial proposal, that we discussed here)
Other sections address policies and reporting that have a military justice connection (like Sec. 544. Oversight of registered sex offender management program).
Some details follow.
Section 531 of the NDAA amends Article 128 to add a new paragraph (b)(3) expanding the definition of aggravated assault to include any assault by strangulation or suffocation. Current law defines aggravated assault as including an assault with a means likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm, or the intentional infliction of death of grievous bodily harm, and there can be situations where strangulation does not satisfy that definition.
Section 532 of the NDAA creates a new Article 128b enumerating the offense of domestic violence. The final legislation is far more narrow than the proposed version. The new Article 128b will read:
Any person who—
(1) commits a violent offense against a spouse, an intimate partner, or an immediate family member of that person;
(2) with intent to threaten or intimidate a spouse, an intimate partner, or an immediate family member of that person—
(A) commits an offense under this chapter against any person; or
(B) commits an offense under this chapter against any property, including an animal;
(3) with intent to threaten or intimidate a spouse, an intimate partner, or an immediate family member of that person, violates a protection order;
(4) with intent to commit a violent offense against a spouse, an intimate partner, or an immediate family member of that person, violates a protection order; or
(5) assaults a spouse, an intimate partner, or an immediate family member of that person by strangling or suffocating;
shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
Section 533 of the NDAA gives the Defense Advisory Committee on Investigation, Prosecution, and Defense of Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces (DAC-IPAD) (CAAFlog page) additional authority to hold hearings.
Section 534 of the NDAA requires that the DoD produce a report on the feasibility of expanding special victim counsel programs to include victims of domestic violence. Under 10 USC § 1044e, SVC services are limited to victims of alleged sex-related offenses, which generally involve only violations of current Articles 120, 120a, 120b, 120c, or 125.
Section 535 of the NDAA requires that the DoD establish a form to report the final disposition of allegations of sexual assault where the alleged offender is a member of the armed forces and the allegation is made in an unrestricted report.
Section 536 of the NDAA requires that the DoD standardize policies for expedited transfers of alleged victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.