Military Trial Defenders is your best choice for Legal Defense for Military Drug Offense. We have the experience you need to clear your name and keep your career.
A drug offense conviction could be potentially career-ending for a member of the military. And with today’s climate on drug use and abuse, a drug offense can bear more weight on the defendant’s reputation. If you’ve been accused of ingesting, possessing or manufacturing illegal substances, your military career is at risk and you need to contact the pros at Military Trial Defenders right away. We have a proven track record and are experienced in military trial defense.
Definition of Drug Offense According to The Uniform Code of Military JusticeAccording to the UCMJ, a drug offense is committed when anyone “who wrongfully uses, possesses, manufactures, distributes, imports…exports..or introduces [a drug] into an installation, vessel, vehicle, or aircraft used by or under the control of the armed forces.” A drug is defined as “opium, heroin, cocaine, amphetamine, lysergic acid diethylamide, methamphetamine, phencyclidine, barbituric acid, and marijuana, and any compound or derivative of any such substance..or [anything] that is listed in Schedules I through V of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act.”
Potential Consequences of a Drug OffenseBecause of the nature of drug offenses (and how they’re classified at a federal level), a guilty charge could result in punitive charges or administrative consequences at the military level. A guilty verdict in the civilian court could mean jail time. A guilty verdict in the military court-martial system could mean removal from the military in a way that will never allow another career in any branch of the military. The first step in the process of defending these charges is ensuring that your case is heard at the military level. Once a servicemember tests positive for or is implicated in the use, possession, or distribution of any drug, they are identified and pipelined for removal from the military. Depending on the drug and the type of charge, the question is whether the defendant will be legally charged or face administrative consequences at the military level. In other words, will he/she go to jail or be removed from the military in a way that will never allow them to continue their career.
Defending Military Drug Offenses
Drug offenses are not circumstantial meaning that a positive result on a drug test is the direct result of consumption of a drug. But the process in which a defendant receives a positive urinalysis can be disputed. These defenses include innocent ingestion and collection or testing errors.
Innocent IngestionIn order to give a guilty verdict, the government is required to prove that the servicemember knowingly ingested the drug or illegal substance. That’s where an innocent ingestion defense strategy comes in. Based on the circumstances of what drug, where and when it was consumed, it’s reasonable to believe that the accused was either slipped the drug or didn’t know that he/she was ingesting something illegal.
Collection or Testing ErrorsIt’s been proven over and over again that errors occur in the laboratory where urinalysis takes place. This includes errors in collection, storage, and labeling, or even the physical testing itself. Testing errors are common with urinalysis. Research from The Journal of Opioid Management shows that tests come back positive when drugs have NOT been ingested or that the test shows a false negative for the WRONG drug. Defense of this nature usually involves looking into the track record of the testing facility. Collection, storage, and labeling errors also occur in the military testing facilities. In order to keep patient information secure, labeling errors can occur. This usually means confusing one person’s sample for another. This defense is typically used when the facility has a history of errors or if the test shows other impossible results (e.i., simple tests can be run to determine if the sample belongs to a male or female).
Your Rights as the Accused
Every military member has the right to an attorney if they are charged with any type of criminal conduct. The agencies that investigate crimes against the Uniform Code of Military Justice are not required to present the truth. In fact, their operating instructions require investigative techniques based on lies and deceit, in order to get the defendant to confess. The investigator will often tell the military member that they are conducting a fair investigation and want both sides of the story, but in reality are looking for a confession. The truth is that when the defendant sits in the interrogation room, the deck is already stacked against them – and this is by design. The best chance any suspect has is to request professional counsel.
Explanation of ProcessWhen the military member’s command receives either notification of a positive urinalysis result or other evidence that the member possessed or distributed an illegal drug, a decision must be made whether to prosecute the military member under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 112 or in a federal court as a civilian. There is no way to guarantee a military trial as the charges are set at the discretion of the commanding officer.
Once the case has moved to trial, the defense begins by reviewing the case in detail, beginning to end. Because the defense relies on process errors, it’s important to review every step of the urinalysis – from the date of possible consumption to reviewing the urinalysis results. The defense will attempt to poke holes in the process and make a case that the defendant unknowingly took the drug or mistakenly received a positive urinalysis. At trial, the military member should expect expert testimony from both the prosecution and defense regarding the drug- including type/classification, the amount and the potential effects. Additionally, if the evidence went to a Department of Defense testing facility, the government will be required to prove that their side of the urinalysis process was error-free.