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How long might an Article 32 investigation last?

A U.S. Navy officer may be facing charges of espionage, according to a recent article. The officer is under scrutiny for other alleged improper behavior, as well. He reportedly committed adultery and hired a prostitute, which could also implicate him under military law.

If adultery and espionage charges seem like a strange pairing, it may be an indication of how seriously military authorities view the charge of espionage. If they believe the evidence supports the charges, they may approve a court-martial. If convicted, the officer could face the death penalty. Under military law, death is the maximum mandatory punishment for an espionage conviction. At present, however, officials are only weighing the charges against the officer.

The investigative process is technically considered an Article 32 investigation under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It’s somewhat comparable to a preliminary hearing in civilian criminal justice. An accused has the right to be represented by counsel at all times during the process, including an opportunity to cross-examine any witnesses that are brought against him. An accused may also present evidence in support of his or her defense.

The Article 32 investigation allows time for defense strategy. Our law firm focuses on courts-martial defense, and the first step we take during the Article 32 investigation is to explore every possibility for avoiding the court martial. Since the military’s investigative process may take months or even years before charges are formally brought against a service member, there is often time to develop a strong defense strategy.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “U.S. Navy Officer Faces Spying Charges,” Paul Sonne and Gordon Lubold, April 11, 2016

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