All members of the United States Armed Forces branches have the right to legal counsel when they are accused of a crime, just as they would as civilians. The Sixth Amendment preserves the right to legal counsel for every American citizen. However, criminal court proceedings unfold very differently for members of the military. Additionally, every branch of the military has different processes for handling criminal offenses committed by their respective service members.
“Aaron takes his work very seriously and ultimately gave me back my faith in the legal system and that justice can and will prevail if you stick to your guns!…I would recommend him to anyone looking for who I consider to be one of the best damn Defense Attorneys around!” – J.E., former client
While members of the military are expected to follow the same laws as civilians, they are also held to a higher standard of character than the general public and beholden to the articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). This legal tome is the focal point of every criminal case that unfolds within the military. Moreover, it includes various rules and provisions affecting all service members in all aspects of military life.
All service members must remember that many actions that qualify as criminal conduct in the military do not apply to civilian life. For example, adultery is a punishable offense for any service member. For a civilian, adultery may form the basis of a divorce, but it cannot lead to criminal charges outside domestic violence cases. When a military member is charged with violating the UCMJ, the penalties they face are likely much harsher than a civilian would face for a similar offense.
Aaron Meyer Law offers aggressive defense representation to US service members stationed at the Naval Base on 32nd Street in San Diego. As the second largest surface ship base of the United States Navy, thousands of members of the US Navy and other branches of the military work on the base and live in the area. Therefore, when a service member at Naval Base San Diego is charged with a UCMJ violation, we can provide the military criminal defense representation you need to feel more confident in this distressing situation.
The military has several procedures for handling UCMJ violations. Different procedures apply depending on the severity of a violation. Less serious offenses are typically addressed with Article 15 citations, which allow a commanding officer to assign a punishment to a subordinate for their misconduct. A commanding officer may issue an Article 15 citation, deliver a verbal reprimand to the subordinate, and assign other nonjudicial punishments.
More severe offenses can lead to court-martial proceedings. A special court-martial applies when an offense would usually qualify for misdemeanor prosecution for a civilian. General court-martial applies to offenses that commonly constitute felonies for civilians. There are also very specific rules of the UCMJ pertaining to appropriate conduct for members of the military. Offenses against these provisions may qualify for special or general court-martial proceedings depending on their severity.
If your criminal case within the military proceeds to court-martial, you have the same right to legal counsel that a civilian would when facing criminal charges. However, criminal cases within the military unfold very quickly compared to cases in the civilian criminal court system.
Therefore, you must secure defense representation as soon as possible to have the best chance of formulating an effective defense. In addition, penalties for violation of the UCMJ could be far more severe than you initially expected. Therefore, only an experienced defense attorney can provide the professional insights you need to feel more confident about your impending case.
When a member of the military is convicted of violating the UCMJ, they may not only face heavy economic penalties and incarceration, but they may also lose their military career. Depending on the severity of an offense, a service member could face a dishonorable discharge or administrative separation from the military in response to their actions. The right defense attorney can potentially mean the difference in saving your military career. If you are kicked out of the military, you could face forfeiture of all the pay and allowances you have received from the military, and the record of your discharge can complicate your civilian life in various ways.
The right defense attorney can tremendously impact the outcome of any criminal case. However, it is crucial for the defendant to find an attorney with solid experience handling similar cases. When it comes to military criminal cases within the military, only an experienced military criminal defense attorney is a suitable choice for representation.
The military typically enables service members charged with violations of the UCMJ to secure legal counsel from detailed military attorneys free of charge. While impending legal fees may discourage some service members from seeking private defense counsel, it is vital to acknowledge the potential value they can offer in a complex case compared to what a detailed attorney can provide. Like public defenders in civilian criminal court, a detailed military defense attorney is usually responsible for managing several cases. However, this offers minimal flexibility to provide clients with much individual attention.
We will immediately begin crafting your defense when you choose Aaron Meyer Law to represent you in a military criminal case. First, our team will meet with you to learn your side of the events in question and review all available evidence and records. Next, we’ll determine whether your branch of service and your commanding officers have followed appropriate military legal procedures and whether your rights have been preserved thus far in your case.
Ultimately, no defense attorney can ever promise a client a specific result. However, any defendant facing criminal charges is most likely to reach positive results in their case with the help of an experienced defense attorney. Attorney Aaron Meyer is a former US Marine who has cultivated a strong reputation as a leading choice for military defense counsel. If you are stationed at the Naval Base on San Diego’s 32nd Street and have been charged with violating the UCMJ, we can help. Contact us today to schedule your consultation with a San Diego military criminal defense attorney you can trust with your defense.
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