Unit HomeBranchesVictim Legal Counsel Organization (VLCO)
Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant

 

Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant

Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps


MISSION STATEMENT
    The Marine Corps Victims' Legal Counsel Organization is fully committed to provide legal advice, counseling, and representation to victims of sexual assault and other crimes, and to protect victims' rights at all stages of the military justice process.

BACKGROUND
    On 14 August 2013, the Secretary of Defense directed that each Service immediately implement a victim legal advocacy program to provide legal advice and representation to victims of sexual assault.  He directed that each Service establish initial operating capability not later than 1 November 2013 and fully establish victim legal advocacy services by 1 January 2014.  The Marine Corps Victims' Legal Counsel Organization (VLCO) stood-up on 1 November 2013 with four regional VLCO offices aligned with each of the four Legal Services Support Sections (LSSS), LSSS-West, East, Pacific, and National Capital Region (NCR).  Today there are VLCO offices at MCB Quantico, Camp Lejeune, MCRD Parris Island, MCAS Cherry Point, MCB Camp Pendleton, MCAGCC 29 Palms, MCAS Miramar, MCB Hawaii, and Camp Butler, Okinawa.  Congress recently acknowledged a Special Victims' Counsel under 10 USC §1044e.

GENERAL INFORMATION
  • VLCO services are primarily intended for active duty military members and reservists on active duty who are victims of sexual assault; however, eligible victims of other crimes in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) may also seek assistance from a Victims’ Legal Counsel (VLC) as provided under 10 USC §1044 and JAGINST 5800.7F (JAGMAN). 

     

  • A victim of sexual assault shall be informed and given the opportunity to consult with a VLC as soon as the victim receives assistance from a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program or Family Advocacy Program (FAP) Victim Advocate, military criminal investigator, victim-witness liaison or coordinator, or trial counsel.  10 USC §1565b. 

     

  • Marine Corps VLC are judge advocates, who are highly qualified attorneys with extensive military justice backgrounds, have completed a certified victims’ advocacy course, and are required to be selected through a "sensitive screening process."  The VLCO chain-of-command is functionally independent of convening authorities, staff judge advocates, LSSS OICs, trial counsel, and defense counsel.  VLC are under the supervision of, and report to, the OIC, VLCO, who reports directly to the Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the Marine Corps.  

     

  • VLCO services supplement, not replace, existing victim support services, including assistance currently provided by VWAP, SAPR Program, FAP, SARC, and Victim Advocates.

     

  • Conversations between VLC and victims are confidential and privileged communications.  The relationship between a VLC and victim is that of an attorney-client relationship. 

     

  • VLC provide victims an overview of the military justice system, including: investigation of crimes; roles and responsibilities of the convening authority, trial counsel, defense counsel, and investigators; purpose of the Article 32 hearing (also known as a Preliminary Hearing); preferral and referral of charges; trial procedures; and evidentiary matters.

     

  • VLC assist victims to understand legal options including: obtaining restraining orders and military protective orders; making Restricted versus Unrestricted reports of sexual assault; and obtaining testimonial or transactional immunity regarding collateral misconduct before testifying against the accused in the case.

     

  • VLC will ensure that victims are informed of existing rights provided under the UCMJ, Military Rules of Evidence (M.R.E.), and Rules for Courts-Martial (R.C.M.), specifically, right to be present at military justice proceedings (M.R.E. 615 and R.C.M. 806); right to provide victim’s view to convening authority regarding initial disposition of an offense (R.C.M. 306); right not to be compelled to make statements or produce evidence when not material and tends to degrade the person (M.R.E. 303); right to attend and be heard regarding admissibility of prior sexual history or predisposition evidence in sexual assault cases (M.R.E. 412); psychotherapist-patient privilege (M.R.E. 513); victim advocate-victim privilege (M.R.E. 514); right to receive a copy of the Record of Trial when victim testified in case involving sexual assault (Article 54, UCMJ); and right to be heard through counsel in court-martial proceedings pursuant to LRM v. Kastenberg, 72 M.J. 364 (C.A.A.F. 2013).

     

  • VLC will represent victims of crime in the military justice process.  Detailed VLC attend interviews of the victim by investigators, trial counsel, defense counsel, and others.  They represent the interests of the victim in court by writing and arguing appropriate motions for relief and assist victims with post-trial matters.

     

  • VLC solely represent the interests of the victim, even where those interests may be different than the Government’s interest in prosecuting the accused in the case.

 

  •  VLC will assist in matters where the Victim may have been in violation of rules and regulations such as underage drinking, out after curfew hours, adultery, out without liberty buddy, etc.

 

  • VLC will assist victim with submitting matters post-trial (known as clemency).

POINTS OF CONTACT

Headquarters, VLCO

Officer in Charge                703-693-9524

Deputy OIC                         703-693-8525

Paralegal                             703-693-9526

VLCO National Capital Region

MCB Quantico                    703-784-4514

After Hours                         703-772-4883

VLCO East

Camp Lejeune                    910-451-8519

After Hours                         910-915-9774

Parris Island                       843-228-3581

Cherry Point                       252-466-5649

VLCO West

Camp Pendleton                 760-725-8521

After Hours                          760-213-3702

MCAS Miramar                    858-577-9210

After Hours                         760-212-1542

MCAGCC 29 Palms            760-830-5162

After Hours                         760-212-6889

VLCO Pacific

Camp Butler, Okinawa        315-645-4457

After Hours                         080-8372-3107

MCB Hawaii                        808-257-2274

After Hours                         808-216-3155

REFERENCES
  • MARADMIN 583/13, Establishment of the Marine Corps Victims’ Legal Counsel Organization (VLCO), 31 Oct 2013
  • SECDEF Memo, Subj: Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, 14  Aug 2013
  • 10 USC §1044, Legal Assistance  
  • 10 USC §1565b, Victims of Sexual Assault: access to Legal Assistance and Services of Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and Sexual Assault Victim Advocates
    OTHER CRIME VICTIM RESOURCES