A military conviction or other administrative action can end your career. Moreover, military law is very complex, which usually means that it can be very difficult to understand what your legal options are once you have been notified that are under criminal investigation. If you or someone you know is being investigated for violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice or other criminal offenses, it is critical to seek appropriate legal defense.
Acquire Experienced U.S Military Defense
Being accused or suspected of an offense can be a very stressful matter. It is natural to feel uncertain about the future of your military career. Thus, it is very important that you consult the experienced support of a skilled military defense attorney.
The UCMJ defense attorneys at the National Security Law Firm are highly experienced in assisting military service members in the United States armed forces who face court-martials or other adverse actions. Contact the National Security Law Firm today when facing military criminal investigations.
Individuals who are accused of wrongdoing under the Uniform Code of Military Justice can be required to partake in a court-martial trial. These are criminal trials for service members that have been accused of committing a crime that has been outlined in the Uniform Code of Military Justice’s Punitive Articles.
Article 32 of the Punitive Articles allows investigations, which are similar to pretrial hearings in state and federal civil courts. The primary objective of an investigation is to make a determination as to whether the criminal action was actually committed and whether probable cause exists to determine if the accused actually committed the crime. For the most part, a court-martial trial will follow the same protocol as what is used in a federal trial in district courts.
Common criminal charges that can go into court-martial trials are: AWOL violations; Drug offenses; Fraternization; Manslaughter; Sexual assault; Fraud; Computer crimes; Aiding the enemy; Desertion; Mutiny; Insubordination; Being drunk or under the influence while on duty; and Larceny.
In the event that an accused military member is found guilty, he or she may face serious punishments. Some of these punishments may include: Confinement; The forfeiture of his or her pay; and A reduction in rank.
If the charges involve sex crimes, it is possible that the accused can face additional penalties, such as registering as a sex offender. Additionally, a defendant can lose his or her ability to own a firearm, which may be detrimental to their military career.
A Court-Martial Appeal
When convicted of a criminal offense at a court-martial, the result can be devastating. Although some court-martials can be automatically appealed, defendants have the right to appeal adverse rulings identified in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. A court-martial appeal is similar to appealing a federal court decision. Nonetheless, there are certain issues that are unique to a military court.
In an appeal, the defense will be required to demonstrate that an error occurred in the process, which adversely affected the final result of the court-martial. These types of errors can include: An error that was committed while collecting evidence or proof; An abuse of authority; Procedural violations, Factual errors involving the crime; and/or errors in how the Uniform Code of Military Justice was applied or interpreted.
Adverse Administrative Action
There are many different forms of adverse administrative actions, which include: Performance reviews; Article 15: non-judicial punishment matters; Adverse officer evaluation report; Revocation or denial of promotion; Letter of reprimand; Loss of pay; Reduction of position; Change in job status; and discharges.
When offered an Article 15 action, this means that a commander has reason to believe that one of more offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice were perpetrated. Defendants have the option of accepting Article 15 or turning it down, thereby requesting a court-martial trial. Accepting Article 15 will not be an admission of guilt. It also means that your case will be decided by your commander. In a majority of cases, defendants do have the legal right to seek legal counsel before making a decision.
It is important to know that even when the criminal offense does not call for the case to enter court-martial, being found guilty through adverse administrative action is detrimental to the defendant’s reputation or the prospect of a military career. Poor performance evaluations regularly have negative impacts on service members and there is a high possibility of being denied a promotion or having an administrative discharge. Ultimately, it is very important to use all available methods to circumvent being found guilty as well as excluding serious detrimental documentation from being added to the personal file.
Consult a Highly Experienced Military Defense Attorney
If you are a member of the United States military, you generally have different rights than civilians. Further, once military investigations and court-martial begin, it is rare that anybody in the government will presume that you are innocent. Unfortunately, most will assume that you are guilty of the charges. Thus, it is critical to collect evidence that will prove against your charges.
The United States Military has unlimited resources when it comes to prosecuting your case. When dealing with a case, it is important to know that the prosecution has a team of investigators and the military police on their side. On the contrary, the defense has none. Facing military investigations is difficult and the playing field is rarely even. Because of this, it is critical to have the legal support of an attorney that you can trust.
At the National Security Law Firm, we aggressively defend UCMJ cases worldwide. Call (202) 600-4996 to consult confidentially with a well-versed defense attorney today.