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Does misconduct always escalate into a court-martial proceeding?

There are parallels that can be drawn between the military courts-martial process and a criminal proceeding in the civilian context. Just as civilian police forward their investigation to a district attorney who makes the decision of whether to press charges, so do military commanders make a decision after conducting a preliminary inquiry. Not every inquiry may progress to a court-marital proceeding under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. 

For example, a commander might decide that the allegations were unsubstantiated and take no further action in the case. Administrative punishments are also available, such as a reprimand or even an adverse performance evaluation. A commander also has non-judicial punishment authority. 

An overview of the U.S. Army’s courts-martial results for a recent month reveals how potentially serious the consequences of this military process can be. As context, out of the 36 cases, the accused solder was released in less than one-third of the cases. Punishments included both financial and conduct-related penalties, such as a forfeit of pay and allowances, a reduction in pay grade, confinement and/or dishonorable or bad-conduct discharges.

My law firm focuses on a broad spectrum of military justice issues. I have represented service members facing investigations, courts-martial and/or administrative hearings. The investigative period that precedes a court-martial proceeding may take months or even years before it culminates in charges. During this time, an attorney can work diligently to develop an accused’s case and perhaps even avoid court-martial proceedings in the first place.

If you are facing preliminary and subsequent proceedings related to general courts-martial, special courts-martial and summary courts-martial, I can offer assistance and strong legal advocacy. Check out my firm’s website to learn more about the types of charges I have helped service members defend against.

Source: Army Times, “Army releases results from July courts-martial,” Aug. 21, 2015

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