Charged with a Military Crime?
Military personnel are not tried under the same laws or by the same courts as civilians. Since the men and women in our military are responsible for the protection and defense of our country, they are also held to high standards when it comes to conduct and the commission of crimes. If you have been charged with a military crime, be sure that you understand what your options are and how best to defend yourself from a wrongful conviction.
Understanding the Court-Martial Process
When a person is accused of a crime in the military, only an officer with authority to convene a court-martial - known as a Convening Authority - may issue an order for a court-martial. There are three different courts-martial that could be convened: a summary court-martial, a special court martial, and a general court martial. These are determined depending on the rank of the accused and the severity of their alleged offense.
The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) requires that the accused be brought to trial as soon as possible; meanwhile, they may be detained for up to 120 days if it is considered necessary in order to ensure their presence at trial. Once the trial begins, the case undergoes a findings phase where witnesses and evidence are brought before the judge and jury and both sides present their cases. After the panel meets and votes on the guilt or innocence of the accused, if the verdict is guilty, then the trial moves on to the sentencing phase and the offender is penalized for their crime.
What You Are Up Against in a Court Martial
There are several things you should know if you facing criminal charges in the military. It is important to keep in mind the, if those above you are convinced of your guilt, it will be difficult to fight your charges without competent defense. The military legal staff have virtually unlimited resources to use against you, which could be a serious problem if they are already convinced of your guilt. For those that are accused of a sex crime, with the increase in this crime over the past few years, the military has sworn to take a stronger stance against it, enlisting their effort to reduce the number of sex crimes committed by those in the military. Your best chance of fighting your charges in this case would be to retain an aggressive military criminal defense lawyer with the knowledge and skill to present a strong case on your behalf.
Actions that are illegal in day to day life can also be illegal for those in the military, on top of added crimes such as desertion or fraternization. There is an added risk for danger in military crime cases. Not only do members face the potential for standard penalties such as jail time and fines, there is also the possibility of losing their ranking. If you are convicted, the military life you have worked hard for and become accustomed to could be destroyed. While capital punishment is rarer, it was reintroduced into the military and is also an option that is possible in very extreme cases. If you have already been convicted for a military crime, there may still be the possibility to appeal the decision and seek having a former guilty verdict overturned.
Defense from a Former Military Member
Meagan F. Temple, Attorney at Law has experience in both prosecution and defense, including experience as a JAG Corps military representative. Today she handles both civil and military criminal defense cases and is prepared to fight relentlessly against your false charges. Unlike the appointed counselors provided by the military, who may be inexperienced, Ms. Temple has a record of success and has proven her ability to defend her clients. Contact her today for a free case evaluation and find out what legal options are available to you.