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4.27.2012

Victim Advocate-Victim Privilege (MRE 514) New Privilege to Look Out For

Written by: Federal Practice Group
Written by: Federal Practice Group

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According to the new MCM, alleged victims have been given new privileges under Military Rule of Evidence 514. The rule states that victims may refuse to disclose confidential communication made between the victim and his/her advocate. The rule applies to cases arising under the UCMJ and also allows the alleged victim to prevent others from disclosing confidential communication between the victim’s advocate and the victim. According to the rule, a victim is “'any person who suffered direct physical or emotional harm as the result of a sexual or violent offense.” MRE 514(b)(1). What does this mean? Any individual who claims to be a victim may be protected under the rule. Any person who alleges sexual violence or another violent act is protected before the court makes a decision regarding the crime. Additionally, third parties may be protected under the rule.

For example, if a third party claims that he/she suffered emotional harm because his/her best friend was hurt, the friend may also be protected under the rule. However, courts will have to determine the extent of the new case to decide whether or not it actually applies to third parties. If it does apply, the court will have to decide which individuals are protected under it. The rule does not cover victim-witness liaison. Additionally, it will not be used in cases involving administrative proceedings. The rule also has several exceptions. For instance, it does not apply if the victim is dead, if the victim has a duty to report, if the victim threatens Servicmemebers or if the case involved fraud. The rule is exempt it the victim is constitutionally required to share information. This blog does not constitute legal advice. Contact an attorney if you have legitimate questions about military law or a case.

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