Need a Military Law Lawyer?

If you are on active duty, there are numerous issues that can call for the assistance of an attorney. The most significant situations usually concern charges brought by a command under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Commanders often choose to “prefer” charges against a soldier, sailor, airman or marine and, in certain circumstances, those or other charges are “referred” by a commander for a court martial. Those charges most likely come from of the punitive articles listed in the UCMJ. An attorney can play a vital role in the defense of a case even before charges are preferred by a command.

Assault Crime in the Military Justice System

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If you are on active duty, there are numerous issues that can call for the assistance of an attorney. The most significant situations usually concern charges brought by a command under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Commanders often choose to "prefer" charges against a soldier, sailor, airman or marine and, in certain circumstances, those or other charges are "referred" by a commander for a court martial. Those charges most likely come from of the punitive articles listed in the UCMJ. An attorney can play a vital role in the defense of a case even before charges are preferred by a command.

If charges are brought before a court martial panel, the service member faces a daunting task. Having the right attorney representing the service member is critical.

If convicted at court martial, a panel can consider a number of options for punishment. If the panel decides to separate the service member from the armed forces, a service member can receive 1 of 5 possible types of discharge: Honorable, Under Honorable Conditions (often called a "General Discharge"), Under Other than Honorable Conditions, Bad-Conduct Discharge, or Dishonorable Discharge. The last 2 of this list, Bad-Conduct Discharge, or Dishonorable Discharge, can only be given after a conviction at court martial. Whether a service member will retain various benefits, including VA benefits, his/her Montgomery GI bill, or even his/her retirement, hinges greatly on the characterization of discharge.

Another form of discharge is uncharacterized. An uncharacterized "Entry Level Separation" typically is granted in situations when a service member is in his/her first 180 days in the service and is not adjusting well to the military lifestyle.

An alternative to bringing a service member to court martial is bringing the service member before an administrative board. There are many boards in the various service branches. Some are convened to determine whether the service member has committed misconduct sufficient to be separated (essentially fired) from the service branch. Other boards are convened to determine whether an injury is severe enough to prohibit continued service by a service member. Officers who are suspected of misconduct might be brought before a board of officers or a board of inquiry. Experienced representation before administrative boards is critical to a service member's success or failure.

Reservists often times encounter as many legal issues as their active duty brethren. Many times a reservist receives orders activating the service member to duty. The orders may have been issued erroneously. However, disregarding those orders can create its own set of issues. Alternatively, some reservists find that reporting for active duty may cause a devastating impact on their families and civilian lives. Consulting with the right, experienced attorney is important in determining what a service member's rights and obligations are.

Some reservists encounter issues with their civilian bosses before leaving for an activation or deployment or when they return from one. Federal laws such as the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) help protect service members who face these problems. Our lawyers help navigate these difficult issues. A service member has enough to think about when deployment orders are issued - this should not be one of them.

Many veterans and ex-service members attempt to correct their military records. However, the process can be confusing and paralyzing. We can help you prepare your application before the Army Board of Correction of Military Records (ABCMR), Air Force Board of Correction of Military Records (AFBCMR), and the Board of Correction of Naval Records (BCNR).

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If charges are brought before a court martial panel, the service member faces a daunting task. Having the right attorney representing the service member is critical.

If convicted at court martial, a panel can consider a number of options for punishment. If the panel decides to separate the service member from the armed forces, a service member can receive 1 of 5 possible types of discharge: Honorable, Under Honorable Conditions (often called a “General Discharge”), Under Other than Honorable Conditions, Bad-Conduct Discharge, or Dishonorable Discharge. The last 2 of this list, Bad-Conduct Discharge, or Dishonorable Discharge, can only be given after a conviction at court martial. Whether a service member will retain various benefits, including VA benefits, his/her Montgomery GI bill, or even his/her retirement, hinges greatly on the characterization of discharge.

Another form of discharge is uncharacterized. An uncharacterized “Entry Level Separation” typically is granted in situations when a service member is in his/her first 180 days in the service and is not adjusting well to the military lifestyle.

An alternative to bringing a service member to court martial is bringing the service member before an administrative board. There are many boards in the various service branches. Some are convened to determine whether the service member has committed misconduct sufficient to be separated (essentially fired) from the service branch. Other boards are convened to determine whether an injury is severe enough to prohibit continued service by a service member. Officers who are suspected of misconduct might be brought before a board of officers or a board of inquiry. Experienced representation before administrative boards is critical to a service member’s success or failure.

Reservists often times encounter as many legal issues as their active duty brethren. Many times a reservist receives orders activating the service member to duty. The orders may have been issued erroneously. However, disregarding those orders can create its own set of issues. Alternatively, some reservists find that reporting for active duty may cause a devastating impact on their families and civilian lives. Consulting with the right, experienced attorney is important in determining what a service member’s rights and obligations are.

Some reservists encounter issues with their civilian bosses before leaving for an activation or deployment or when they return from one. Federal laws such as the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) help protect service members who face these problems. Our lawyers help navigate these difficult issues. A service member has enough to think about when deployment orders are issued – this should not be one of them.

Many veterans and ex-service members attempt to correct their military records. However, the process can be confusing and paralyzing. We can help you prepare your application before the Army Board of Correction of Military Records (ABCMR), Air Force Board of Correction of Military Records (AFBCMR), and the Board of Correction of Naval Records (BCNR).

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Assault Crime in the Military Justice System

While in service I visited the United States as a guest of the US Air Force. As I was sometimes a presiding officer of Court Martial in India (being legally qualified), I was interested how the US military law functions. One significant difference is that in the US, there is at the moment one Unified Military Code which is applicable to all the 4 service arms namely the army, airforce, navy and coast guard, while in India we have a separate military code for each service.

The Unified Military code is a comparatively recent occurrence and was signed into law by President Truman only in 1951. Prior to this the code was amorphous and had very fewer checks and balances. The US military law took almost 175 years to evolve to the present Unified Military Code.

The US was a colony of England till 1776, till a war of Independence by the settlers against the English army led to the creation of the American state.As the American state emerged, a set of laws to regulate the army were considered essential. to start with the new state adopted the British codes for the US armed force. The US army now adopted what is known as the Articles of War 1775. These were derived from the British law and consisted of 69 sections. the American military code is credited to John Adams, who was a lawyer at that time. Later he became the President of the United States. The Articles of War found wide acceptance and at the Conference of the Continental Army, they were ratified.

The Articles of War were an exact copy of the British law, underwent a change and some amendments were incorporated in 1806. A team of military experts and lawyers studied codes of many nations including the French and raised the sections from 69 to 101. The code provided for summary execution and in some cases the Commanding Officer of Unit at the time of battle if convinced, could order execution of a combatant. There was no appeal. The code was effective and it instilled discipline in the US army. it was widely used in the US civil war from 1861-65.

The beauty of this code was that it continued for almost 150 years, without any questions being raised. The first time the code was questioned was in the period of the First World War when 13 black soldiers were summarily hanged for " mutiny". Later it came to notice that the punishment was excessive and as there was no appeal the sentence was carried out immediately. It was also mentioned that the bigger crime of the soldiers was that they were black.

To avoid a dip in morale the Secretary of defense Newton D Barker intervened. He ordered that henceforth no executions could be carried out without referring the matter to Washington. Thus a major change was effected in the military code.

After the end of the Second World War, the three Chiefs of Staff appointed a committee to streamline US military law. The committee came up with the Unified Military Code which became law from 1951. One significant change was that a series of checks and balances was introduced and the code made more humane. Death was made an exception and not a rule. This code is now in vogue in the USA. In India also experts are working on a Unified code for all 3 services.