UCMJ Article 32: Preliminary Hearing

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The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) includes various laws and provisions for military service members of all branches of the US Armed Forces. Each Article explains a different violation or procedure for military law. One of the most important Articles of the UCMJ that all military service members must understand is Article 32 of the UCMJ, which pertains to preliminary hearings.

If you serve in any branch of the US military and your commanding officer has issued you a notice of an impending Article 32 preliminary hearing, it’s vital to know your rights and the value of legal representation. Any military prosecution can jeopardize your military career, entail severe financial penalties, and disrupt your civilian life for years to come.

While many members of the military are somewhat dismissive toward Article 32 preliminary hearings, considering them nothing more than formalities prior to actual legal proceedings or Court Martial hearings, the fact is that any service member facing an Article 32 preliminary hearing needs military criminal defense counsel they can trust.

“He stuck by me throughout the entire length of the investigation and trial reassuring me and my family that everything will work out. My family and I will never forget the personal sacrifices he made to ensure the truth was exposed.” – J.E. former client

Representing Military Service Members in UCMJ Article 32 Preliminary Hearings

Attorney Aaron Meyer and his team at Aaron Meyer Law provide focused and aggressive legal counsel to military service members accused of violating the Articles of the UCMJ. While an Article 32 preliminary hearing may only be the initial phase of a military criminal case, the reality is that if you find yourself in this position, you need to begin working on your defense as soon as possible. The right attorney can potentially quell the prosecution’s case at this preliminary stage, saving you time, money, and stress while helping you avoid the severe penalties you would otherwise face.

Attorney Aaron Meyer does not believe in simply fighting charges on behalf of his clients; his philosophy as military defense counsel revolves around the dismantling of the prosecution’s case at the earliest stages of UCMJ court proceedings. The Article 32 preliminary hearing is an ideal phase in which this defense philosophy can work. Attorney Meyer provides aggressive and detail-oriented defense representation through every phase of every case his team handles.

When you choose Aaron Meyer Law to represent you in your Article 32 preliminary hearing, you are investing in the legal skills and military knowledge of a former US Marine and one of the most successful military defense attorneys practicing in the US. Attorney Meyer has maintained a perfect record of zero convictions and puts his resources, experience, and litigation skill to full use in every case represented by Aaron Meyer Law.

What Is an Article 32 UCMJ Preliminary Hearing

When a military prosecutor files charges against a servicemember for an alleged violation of the UCMJ, the formal litigation process begins with an Article 32 preliminary hearing. Article 32 of the UCMJ requires any service member accused of violating any Punitive Article of the UCMJ to undergo a preliminary hearing. This hearing functions similarly to an arraignment or pretrial hearing in civilian criminal court. The military court will notify the accused of the charges they face after a preliminary investigation of the material facts presented by the prosecution and available evidence.

During an Article 32 preliminary hearing, the military court appoints a Preliminary Hearing Officer (PHO) to determine the validity of the accusation in question, evaluate available evidence and witness testimony, verify the credibility of involved witnesses, and offer non-binding recommendations as to whether the PHO believes probable cause exists to pursue criminal prosecution in military court.

The PHO will typically provide recommendations as to whether they believe probable cause exists, how the case should be charged, and the best available method for resolving the case. The method they prescribe may be to have the case dropped if their findings prove insubstantial or inconclusive or to refer the case to Court Martial proceedings. Once the PHO completes these non-binding recommendations, they are submitted for a referral decision. At this point, the military court may decide to drop the case, proceed to Court Martial proceedings, or pursue an alternative remedy to the situation.

The non-binding recommendations provided by the PHO may include referral for nonjudicial punishment for the accused, administrative discharge, adding or dropping charges, or recommending the case proceed to General Court Martial proceedings. It’s important to note that while an Article 32 preliminary hearing typically precedes a Special Court Martial, an Article 32 preliminary hearing is not a strict prerequisite for a Special Court Martial.

How to Approach Your Article 32 Preliminary Court Hearing

It’s important to understand the gravity of your Article 32 preliminary hearing and the opportunities it may present for your defense. An Article 32 preliminary hearing offers a crucial strategic opportunity for the defense, providing them the chance to offer exculpatory evidence or challenge the validity and/or admissibility of the prosecution’s evidence. This is one of the reasons why it is so important for any military service member facing an Article 32 preliminary hearing to secure defense representation as soon as possible.

An experienced military defense attorney will take full advantage of Article 32 preliminary hearing proceedings to dismantle the prosecution’s case before it gains traction. Attorney Aaron Meyer is particularly skilled at handling Article 32 preliminary hearings as his defense philosophy focuses on uprooting the prosecution’s case as swiftly as possible.

Why Choose a Civilian Military Defense Lawyer?

Military servicemembers have the right to free legal representation through the military. So why choose to hire a civilian military defense attorney to represent you in your case? That’s because military assigned lawyers often don’t have the time or experience to get you the best outcome in your case. For serious charges, your life can be negatively impacted on many regards if you’re found guilty. Putting your future in the hands of an unqualified military attorney can be a risky and costly decision.

For the best chance of winning a tough case, a civilian defense attorney with military law experience on your side can make all the difference. The sooner you consult a civilian military lawyer, the better your chances are of winning your case.

Find Your Defense Team Now

When you secure defense representation from Attorney Aaron Meyer, he will help you prepare for your Article 32 preliminary hearing by reviewing the prosecution’s evidence in close detail, analyzing the circumstances of your arrest and the serving of your notice from your commanding officer, and then move to gather exculpatory evidence on your behalf. Depending on the nature of the charges you face, this evidence may include testimony from fellow servicemembers, eyewitnesses to the events in question that led to the charges you face, and careful exposition of your military career to help you establish sound moral character during military litigation.

The military tends to move very quickly. Article 32 of the UCMJ implies expedience, and military courts move much faster than civilian criminal proceedings. If you have received notice of an impending Article 32 preliminary hearing, contact Aaron Meyer Law as soon as possible and schedule a consultation with an experienced and reliable military defense attorney.

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