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What Happens If a Servicemember Is Arrested for a Felony Off- Base?

What Happens If A Servicemember Is Arrested For A Felony Off- Base?

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) imposes strict standards for military members regardless of status. You can get arrested for a felony offence whether on base, off base, out on furlough, or serving on active duty. That means you must follow all UCMJ standards and state laws at all times.

Although civil police officers can’t enforce military laws or charge service members with specific UCMJ offenses committed off base, they can inform the military of the criminal acts. The military court and federal officers can step in to determine whether to press charges.

Jurisdiction for Off-Base Crimes

Virginia law and UCMJ regulations involve some overlapping crimes, including:

  • Rape
  • Domestic violence
  • Robbery
  • Murder
  • Other crimes punishable by civilian and military law

Local law enforcement can arrest a service member for specific crimes that occur off base. However, the case might be under federal jurisdiction. That means the UCMJ can proceed with criminal charges if it chooses and preside over legal proceedings.

A civilian agency is legally authorized to arrest, detain, and charge military members for particular off-base criminal activity, such as domestic violence. The police don’t have to notify the military under those circumstances. 

Sentencing for Off-Base Felony Crimes

The sentence you receive will depend on whether the military or the Commonwealth of Virginia has jurisdiction over your case and the type of crime you allegedly committed.

The type of offense will determine the penalty the UCMJ imposes, such as:

  • Restriction
  • Punitive discharge
  • Hard labor without confinement
  • Reduction in grade
  • Reprimands
  • Forfeitures
  • Fines
  • Confinement
  • Death

If under the Commonwealth of Virginia’s jurisdiction, your punishment will depend on the type of criminal offense and the class of the felony. Felonies fall under six classes with varying sentencing guidelines authorized under Virginia law.

Class 1 Felony

 A class 1 felony is punishable by:

  • Life in prison; and
  • A fine of up to $100,000.

Anyone convicted of a class 1 felony is not eligible for parole, earned sentence credits, conditional release, or good conduct allowance.

Class 2 Felony

A class 2 felony can lead to penalties, such as:

  • No more than a $100,000 fine; and
  • Twenty years in prison to life imprisonment

Class 3 Felony 

A class 3 felony can result in sentencing such as:

  • Five to 20 years in prison; and
  • Up to a $100,000 fine.

Class 4 Felony

A class 4 felony includes these penalties:

  • A maximum of a $100,000 fine; and
  • Two to ten years in prison.

Class 5 Felony

Sentencing for a class 5 felony involves a prison term between one and ten years. However, if the court tries the case without a jury or at the jury’s discretion during sentencing, the penalties can include:

  • No more than a $2,500 fine;
  • Up to 12 months in jail; or
  • Both.

Class 6 Felony

A class 6 felony is punishable by one to five years imprisonment. If at the jury’s discretion or the court tries the case without a jury, sentencing can involve:

  • A maximum fine of $2,500;
  • No more than 12 months in jail; or
  • Both.

Fight for Your Freedom with Invictus Law

The Virginia Beach criminal defense lawyers from Invictus Law grew up in military families. We also served in the Marine Corps and Army. Now we use our experience and knowledge to advocate for military members’ rights. You can count on us to explore every possible option to prepare a defense against the charge you face.

If you are a servicemember who was arrested or charged with a crime while off base, call 757-317-5125 or contact us online today for a confidential consultation to learn what we can do for you.

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