The Stolen Valor Act makes it a crime to pretend to have earned armed forces service honors that one has not earned, such as claiming to have a Purple Heart or other medal when one does not. The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear arguments in a case that challenges the Stolen Valor Act on the grounds that it violates the First Amendment of the Constitution – the amendment that protects the right to free speech.
The Act, which became law in 2006, makes it a federal misdemeanor to lie about having earned war honors. The maximum penalty includes up to one year of imprisonment and a fine. About 60 people have been prosecuted under the law since it was passed, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office says that it doesn’t consider the law a high priority when compared to other issues, like drug smuggling or terrorism.
Supporters of the Stolen Valor Act claim that allowing people to lie about their military honors cheapens those honors for those who actually received them. Opponents say that the freedom to speak includes the freedom to lie, and that the First Amendment precludes the power of government to act as a kind of “truth police.”
Constitutional rights exist to ensure that the basic rules of a fair trial are respected. When these rights are ignored, serious problems with criminal trials can result. At The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., our experienced criminal defense lawyers in Colorado fight to protect the constitutional rights of every client, as well as to seek the best possible outcome in each client’s case. For a free, confidential telephone consultation, call us today at (719) 475-2555.