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A Remedy Remains: “Stolen Valor” is Still Fraud

by Sara B. Morgan, Esq.

Although the Supreme Court recently overturned the Stolen Valor Act of 2006, there are still legal consequences for lying about receiving awards and medals won through military service. Indeed, the ruling in U.S. v. Alvarez does not constitute an endorsement for stealing valor.

Instead, in finding the Act unconstitutional, the Court determined only that imposing federal criminal charges for such conduct violated the First Amendment protection of free speech. However, nothing about the High Court’s ruling disturbs the laws of torts or precludes any civil action by private parties. So, if I bestow something of value upon a person because of his misrepresentations about military service awards, I can still sue to get it back. Further, I may be able to get what are known as punitive damages, which are a monetary award designed to punish this type of despicable behavior.

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