Military retirees can be tried at court martial for crimes they commit — even though the alleged illegalities do not directly relate to their military service. The laws that subject retirees to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) remain intact.
The Supreme Court effectively made this determination by rejecting the appeal of a retired Marine who was recalled to duty to stand trial in a military court for sexually assaulting a female employee of a bar he managed in Japan, the wife of an active-duty Marine. He also was charged with recording the incident.
Even though the trial court recognized that retired Staff Sgt. Steven M. Larrabee was a civilian at the time the attack occurred, his lawyers contended that he should not have been subject to a military trial because he no longer wore the uniform. Larrabee – a member of the Fleet Marine Corps Reserve on retired pay – was convicted, given a 10 month prison term, a reprimand, as well as a bad-conduct discharge.
When the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the conviction, Larrabee’s lawyers appealed the case to the Supreme Court — which declined to reconsider his case.
The high court’s actions leave the door open to Defense Department prosecution of military retirees for crimes committed out of uniform.