Court-Martial | Five Need to Know Facts
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The court-martial process is code for it takes time and no matter what an investigator or commander may tell you, it is not helpful to talk without an attorney in order to “move things along.” Move things along is just code for incriminate yourself so we can get this over with.
An investigation starts anytime evidence there is evidence that you have committed an crime against the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). This evidence can come from any person or any thing. The take home point is that under an Article of the UCMJ you may have committed some crime and there is evidence. An investigation can start in several ways, but at some point it goes to a military investigative agency either for further collection of evidence or to create a report for your chain of command to take action. In the investigative stage, you will likely asked to be interviewed. Often, there is very little evidence against a member and the investigators are able to get incriminating statements out of the suspect with seemingly innocuous questions. After the investigation ends, your commander or someone in the chain of command looks at the evidence against you.
In the military it is called preferral of charges. In order for someone to bring charges against you it requires a reasonable suspicion that you committed an offense against the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Once preferral of charges has occurred, you are now formally being accused of committing an offense. This part of the process is complete once the commander has read your charges to you and provided you a copy of the charge sheet.
Going to Trial
In the military the process of going to trial is called that referral of charges. If you are facing a general court-martial then you have already had a preliminary hearing and if you are facing a special court-martial preferral and referral generally occur at the same time. This is the last procedural stop prior to trial.
At trial you will face your accuser or the evidence the government is required to use in order to meet their burden of beyond a reasonable doubt. Prior to trial and sometimes during trial you will be required to make several key decisions. Should I testify? Should the person that decides my fate based on the evidence be a judge or jury? If I am enlisted should I have a mixed panel of officer and enlisted decide my fate or just officer? Should I plead guilty or not guilty? Who do I want to represent me- an appointed military defense counsel or hire civilian military defense lawyers. There are lots of decisions that you need to make and each case is different. Relying on someone else’s results or what you heard happened to them is a mistake. There are a tremendous amount of variables that requires experience in order to walk you through them. The best advice is not someone who has gone through something similar, but a person who has been through hundreds of cases. Trial is an ever changing landscape from moment to moment.
Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine? Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, or Marine Corp? We have served every branch and if you are facing charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice call us- we are committed to defending those that defend America. If you are involved in any one of the above steps- call. The sooner the better.
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