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Administrative discharge in the context of a court-martial trial

Although today's blog post relates to a recent news-based story, the tale it pertains to can equally be seen as a convenient stepping stone to general topical information that might reasonably be of interest to many of our readers.

Indeed, the story brings up several topics that we believe are immediately relevant to an audience focused on military law and legal matters affecting servicemembers and their families.

Here's one. The above story centers on an alternative disposition to a court-martial proceeding and outcome for one Air Force airman accused of wrongdoing in a sexual assault case. The servicemember could have received a 10-year-plus prison term, reduction in rank, loss of all pay and a dishonorable discharge had he been convicted in a court-martial trial.

That didn't happen, though. A defendant scheduled for a court-martial proceeding can request an administrative discharge, which is precisely what the airman did. Granting such a request is within the discretion of a military commander who is also a so-called convening authority. For unstated reasons, the airman's request was granted.

The result was a discharge "under other than honorable conditions."

Other case outcomes at the same military facility involving sexual assault allegations have also concluded similarly. It is interesting to ponder that, given the widely varying outcomes of a number of court-martial trials at that base that also involved sexual offenses. About half of those proceedings concluded with guilty verdicts. About 15 percent ended with acquittals, and one was ultimately resolved pursuant to an Article 32 hearing.

Given options that might be available to an accused servicemember, coupled with the wide variance in possible outcomes, an affected party might reasonably want to secure the timely and knowledgeable assistance of a proven military defense attorney to provide guidance and aggressive representation.

After all, there is a huge difference between an administrative discharge and a dishonorable discharge coupled with a decade-long period of incarceration.

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