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How can a civilian lawyer help a military defendant?

Can a civilian attorney help a service member facing a court-martial? Military law is definitely a specialized area of legal practice. However, our law firm has experience representing service members with their legal defense in a variety of contexts, including courts-martial and administrative discharge hearings, court-martial appeals, military command investigations, and ROTC and military academy disenrollments.

One way to think about the distinction between military and civilian attorneys is that the military often provides a free military defense attorney to an accused, comparable to the civil public defender service. Such attorneys might be highly skilled.

However, free military defense counsel might also be overburdened with high caseloads, or perhaps unfamiliar with the particular criminal charges at issue. In addition, a civil attorney is outside the military’s chain of command and may be able to offer more autonomous legal counsel, without fear of blowback. 

For these reasons, a civil attorney that focuses on the specific type of military crime at issue may prove to be a superior option. Best of all, hiring a civil attorney does not require the dismissal of the free military defense attorney; both can remain assigned as counsel.

Our law firm has extensive experience representing military defendants facing charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. We also don’t have to fear a conflict of interest, which might be an issue for free military defense counsel. We offer a free consultation to prospective clients. To learn more about our practice areas, check out our website.

Source: FindLaw, “Court Martial: Should I Hire a Civilian Attorney?” copyright 2015, Thomson Reuters

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David P. Sheldon | International Military Law Attorney

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