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January 3, 1967, Beach Boy Carl Wilson Becomes A Draft Dodger - Today In Crime History

On this day, January 3, in the year 1967, Carl Dean Wilson, of the band the “Beach Boys,” refused to be drafted for military service, leading to his indictment and criminal prosecution for draft evasion.

Carl Dean Wilson was an American rock and roll singer and guitarist, who is best known as a founding member of the Beach Boys.  Carl Wilson was the younger brother of fellow Beach Boys Dennis and Brian Wilson.  Wilson performed lead vocals on a number of famous songs by the Beach Boys, including "Good Vibrations."

In 1966, during the Vietnam war, Carl Wilson received notice that he was being drafted into military service and was ordered to report for duty on January 3, 1967.   Wilson failed to report for military service on January 3 as directed, but seventeen days later filed for “conscientious objector” status with his local selective service draft board.   

Unfortunately for Wilson, the wheels of the criminal “justice” system had already began to roll against him.  On April 5, 1967, Wilson was indicted by a Los Angeles federal grand jury on charges of draft evasion in violation of the selective service act.   On April 26, 1967, Wilson was arrested by FBI agents in New York where he was performing.  He was released from custody on $15,000 bond.

In June 1967, Wilson’s criminal defense attorney would inform the Court of his client’s late filing for conscientious objector status and Carl’s willingness to perform community service in lieu of military service.  Under the Military Selective Service Act of 1967, conscientious objectors, whose beliefs preclude any form of military participation, even as non-combatants, may in-lieu of military training and service be required to preform civilian work as deemed appropriate by the local draft board.  The judge found that the felony charges were premature and dismissed the charges, but this would not end Carl Wilson’s legal problems.

Before his local draft board, Wilson requested that he be allowed to go on a concert tour in lieu of induction into the military.  Wilson said that the Beach Boys were “willing to tour any and all Vietnam installations ...  and are willing to render our services without any cost ....”    The local draft board rejected this offer, finding it too vague and uncertain, and instead ordered Wilson to begin preforming his community service as an orderly at a Los Angeles veterans hospital.  

Wilson refused to do the community service as ordered.  When he failed to report at the hospital as ordered, Wilson was criminally charged with violating the selective service act by refusing to report for civilian work as ordered by the Selective Service Board.  While defending against these charges, Wilson’s criminal defense attorney argued that the war in Vietnam and the Selective Service Act was unconstitutional, but the judge rejected these claims.  At trial, Wilson was convicted and sentenced to three years probation with a condition that he work for two years as a volunteer in the county department of hospitals. 

Wilson’s criminal defense attorney appealed.  The appellate court rejected Wilson's claim that the Vietnam war and the Selective Service Act were unconstitutional.  The Court also found that Wilson’s proposal, as presented to the draft board, was properly rejected.  Specifically the Appellate Court noted that no tour dates or detailed plans were presented.  The court ruled as follows:

As the offer was presented, however, it was so vague and ill-defined as to give the Board no alternative but to reject it. Wilson had arranged no definite commitments, had begun no formal negotiations, and had submitted no proof of his ability to speak for the other members of the musical group of which he was a member; hence, the Board was fully justified in making its determination that Wilson's suggestion was unacceptable.  436 F.2d 972

As the protracted legal battle drew to an end, Wilson’s criminal defense attorney presented the judge with a specific plan for fulfilling the court ordered community service with a detailed proposal.  Finally, in September 1971, the judge agreed to a plan that allowed Wilson to perform his community service by providing musical performances at hospitals and prisons.

Sources and more information:

Beachboy Held as Draft Evader, The Pittsburgh Press, April 27, 1967

Singer Free On Bond, The Evening Independent, May 3, 1967

Military Obligations Waived For Tours, Reading Eagle, September 16, 1971

United States v.  Carl Dean Wilson, 436 F.2D 972 ( 9th Circuit, January 8, 1971)

Beach Boy Draft Case Won, Billboard Magazine, September 25, 1971

Wilson, Carl: American National Biography Online

Carl Wilson,

Invalid Disruption Rules for CO Alternative Service, by Bela Silard,  Columbia Survey of Human Rights Law (1970-1971)

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