Hawaii Court Martial Lawyer
Find a Court Martial Lawyer in Hawaii
As a member of the military, you fall under the jurisdiction of a unique legal code, a legal code that differs significantly from those in the civilian world. The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) lists criminal offenses for the military and controls the court-martial process that applies to criminal trials in the military. When you’re accused of a crime while in the military service, you may be court-martialed. There are two major categories of court-martial, the Special Court-Martial and the General Court-Martial. No matter which kind of court-martial you face, the procedures will be essentially the same in all of the military services.
If you are on active duty, you can be court-martialed for an alleged offense no matter when or where the alleged offense occurred, either on or off post and even while you are on leave.
When you face a court-martial, you should get legal representation to fight your case. The earlier you have a civilian defense attorney with experience in military courts, the better. If you have already been convicted by a court-martial, an experienced civilian defense attorney can also assist you with your appeal.
The Preferral of Charges
The court-martial process begins with the “preferral of charges.” Your commander should notify you once charges have been preferred. You will most likely be asked to acknowledge your charges by signing a statement on a form. Your commander should give you a copy of the charge sheet.
If you have been in contact with an attorney, basic evidence that has been collected against you will be sent to them. A military attorney will also be detailed to represent you. Detailed military attorneys typically have little experience defending court-martial trials. It is crucial that you have an experienced defense team, including a civilian defense attorney with experience in military courts, as early as possible in the process to properly exercise your rights and defend yourself.
Jurisdiction for the Reservists
If you are a reservist, you can still be court-martialed if you commit misconduct while in a military status, such as drilling, during transits between drills and training, and between any intervals during drills.
The General Court-Martial — Article 32
If your command intends to send your case to a General Court-Martial, your case will first be taken to a Preliminary Hearing outlined by Article 32, where a Preliminary Hearing Officer (PHO) will consider the evidence against you. Your attorney will represent you during this process and through the Preliminary Hearing.
The PHO will make a recommendation as to whether there is probable cause that you’ve committed the charged offenses. However, the PHO makes only a recommendation. The government can send your case to a General Court-Martial even if the PHO determines there is no probable cause.
The Referral of Charges
After the charges have been preferred, they are forwarded through your chain of command for disposition. The Court Martial Convening Authority, usually a General or Flag officer in command, will decide if the charges will be referred to a court-martial for trial. If the charges are referred to trial, it will usually be by Special or General Court-Martial.
Special (SPCM) vs. General Court-Martial (GCM)
A General Court-Martial, the highest level of court-martial, can impose the maximum punishment authorized by law, including a dishonorable discharge and lengthy terms of confinement. A Special Court-Martial, while still serious, has limits on the punishment it can impose if you are found guilty. For example, a Special Court Martial cannot impose more than one-year of confinement and a bad conduct discharge. Both types of court-martial can also impose reductions in rank, fines, forfeitures of pay and allowances, and a few other types of punishment.
Being found guilty in either a Special or General Court-Martial will result in a federal criminal conviction, and the charges will be added to your military and civilian criminal record.
Find a Lawyer You Can Trust
When your commander prefers court-martial charges against you, or you are looking to appeal a court-martial conviction, you need a lawyer that understands the ins and outs of the court-martial system and knows how to help. Contact us today for a consultation if you need a civilian defense attorney with experience in military courts to support you, your child, your loved one, or your spouse during any court-martial proceedings.