Servicemembers work hard to defend this country and guarantee our liberties. Unfortunately this does not make them immune from indictment in military criminal investigations. And in fact, due to the serious obligations of military service and the dangers involved, military law is often more strict than the laws that regulated civilian conduct. That said, a service member facing court martial has due cause to be concerned. They could face fines, penalties, and even the blight on their record of dishonorable discharge. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Working with legal counsel who understands the UCMJ (United States Code of Military Justice) a Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, or Guardsman has a better chance of emerging vindicated from their court martial, or at least with reduced penalties.
As mentioned, there is some serious regulatory structure in place within the United States Military, and it’s meant to keep the six branches optimized as a fighting force. But that means, for instance, strict rules against fraternization between officers and enlisted members. That means a zero tolerance policy for possession of illegal drugs, or even the refusal to provide a urine test. In fact, according to the UCMJ, adultery is a punishable offense. Even a minor violation of the UCMJ can result in nonjudicial punishment (NJP, popularly referred to as Captain’s Mast at sea or Office Hours in the Air Force).
In addition to these strictures, there are also a number of rules governing situations that are only applicable in the military, such as accusations of fraud on travel vouchers or the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). Going AWOL (absent without leave) or deserting can also yield serious charges, even if you were urgently trying to address a legitimate concern such as medical, family, or professional problems. This is no time for a regular civilian attorney, but someone who knows the UCMJ. In all these cases and others, a qualified military lawyer conversant with the laws and customs of active duty service can stand with you at your court-martial, even if it requires flying halfway around the world or landing on an aircraft carrier.
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