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A lawyer is needed even for administrative military proceedings

Like any entity, the military has an administrative component that involves paperwork, personnel and, quite often, a lot of waiting. Some of that administrative work may involve routine information and medical records. Other administrative activity may be more serious, such as adverse administrative actions or even administrative discharges.

As in civilian criminal law, an accused in a military criminal trial probably wouldn’t hesitate to get an attorney. Yet a legal advocate can also provide help in non-criminal contexts, as well. Although an attorney may not be able to speed up the military’s bureaucracy, he or she can provide assistance with a range of administrative matters.

Specifically, the military can impose a number of non-judicial punishments upon service members who fail to comply with various regulations or orders. The most serious violations may result in a military court martial, whereas minor offenses may progress through the chain of command in the form of adverse administrative actions. Yet even administrative punishments can be serious, such as an administrative separation that essentially fires an individual from the military and may leave him or her without benefits.

In the case of an “other than honorable” discharge, a service member has the right to an Administrative Discharge Board. The ADB is also available in other types of separations for a service member who has been on active duty for at least six years. An attorney can provide strong advocacy before the ADB, investigating the command’s case, collecting evidence and witnesses for the defense, and preparing a compelling statement to the board.

Source: FindLaw, “Military Administrative Issues,” copyright 2016, Thomson Reuters

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David P. Sheldon | International Military Law Attorney

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