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What is the Stolen Valor Act?

| Jun 12, 2021 | White Collar Crimes |

Fraud is a white collar crime and can occur in a variety of ways. One type of public fraud, which is a crime against the general community, is trying to claim military honors that are not yours. 

Cornell Law School explains the Stolen Valor Act makes it a crime to try to claim medals awarded by the president for military achievements. These may include the Purple Heart or Medal of Honor. 

Background

The Stolen Valor Act became law in 2006 under President George W. Bush. The goal behind it is to preserve the meaning of such coveted military awards. It helps to ensure only those truly deserving receive them. 

In 2013, President Barack Obama signed a revision to the law that changed it slightly. The previous version made it illegal to accept such an award, but the new version makes it illegal to accept an award with the intention of using it to gain some type of tangible benefit. 

Challenges

The U.S. Supreme Court did hear a challenge to the Stolen Valor Act in 2012. The person at the heart of the case publicly claimed to be a recipient of the Medal of Honor when he was not. He had a criminal conviction under the act. 

He challenged the act as unconstitutional and a violation of First Amendment rights. The court agreed and declared the law unconstitutional, which is why President Obama had to issue the revision to the law in 2013. 

It is still an issue to claim you received awards when you did not, but it is only illegal if there is some type of gain coming from it.