Interviewer: You said the stakes are very high. So what are the possible penalties for sexual assault? What can happen?
Chris Cazares: Depending, obviously, on an offense such as child rape, that that could actually get referred as a death penalty case. You can face life in prison, anywhere from no confinement all the way to life in prison, dishonorable discharge, and sex offender registration all of these are going to be part of the equation if you are convicted of sexual assault.
How Can a Qualified Attorney Help?
Interviewer: This sounds very serious. How can a qualified attorney help a military member in this situation?
Chris Cazares: I’ve really seen the gambit. The best case scenario to help your client, hopefully, is to end with a not guilty verdict. In the event that the evidence is just overwhelming, there is always an exit strategy involved when it comes to sentencing.
You wanted to have projected your client in such a manner the military members at least can empathize with the situation, especially when alcohol is involved. Empathize with your client and see the good in them, and hopefully sentence them to a lesser punishment.
I’ve seen clients be sentenced to no confinement, and I’ve seen them get restriction. I’ve seen them get no punitive discharge, and this is all because the defense is zealous and projects your client in a way that is reflective of their military career.
How Long Can Sexual Assault Crimes Take to be Resolved in a Military Setting?
Interviewer: How long will these cases tend to take? What’s the ballpark range?
Chris Cazares: Depending on the evidence that is selected, if there’s DNA evidence, it’s going to take a much longer period of time. It could go from five months to a couple years at the latest. It can be quite a while.
Interviewer: Regarding sexual assault charges in the military setting, is there anything you can add as far as commonalties go?
No Member of the Military Is Exempt from Answering Sexual Assault Charges
Chris Cazares: I find that with sexual assault charges, you normally see younger people being accused, but no doubt, I also have clients who are junior ranking officers that are accused of sexual assault.
They have children, they have a wife, and they have all of these people that you care for and love and are part of the reason why you’re serving. That changes the kind of advice you need, because you need that long term advice that is going to make the situation and the planning easier.
When it comes to prosecuting these new 120 cases, any rank can get accused of sexual assault. It’s not rank exclusive; all ranks are affected by this.