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Whalen Montalvo

Military Law

Dedicated Military Defense in South Carolina

Are you a member of the United States military? Have you recently been charged with a criminal offense? Are you facing a court-martial or charges in South Carolina criminal courts? If so, a vigorous defense is essential.

Make sure you have an experienced and knowledgeable military defense lawyer advocating for your rights. Schedule a confidential case evaluation with Whalen Montalvo today to explore your defense strategies and begin protecting your future.

When to Call a Military Defense Attorney for Help

Service members 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 regulate 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 does not 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.

There is some serious regulatory structure in place within the United States military, and it is 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 – it calls for 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.

Why Hire a Military Defense Attorney

Our aggressive, ethical, and respected military defense attorneys at Whalen Montalvo are here to help you fight for your rights when your future is in jeopardy. We understand the complexities of military laws and know which legal tactics are most likely to produce a favorable outcome in your case.

We have years of legal training and experience that are sure to help you protect your future and avoid the harsh criminal penalties associated with a conviction. We do not take on every case. We only advocate for clients when we can give them the energy, representation, and attention their case deserves.

Attorney James Whalen grew up in Greenville, SC, and obtained his law degree at the University of South Carolina School of Law. He also has extensive experience advocating for his clients in D.C. trial courts.

Attorney Eric Montalvo spent more than 20 years in the Marine Corps working as a leader and Judge Advocate. He retired in June 2019 as a Lieutenant Colonel. He is uniquely qualified to handle your military defense case after more than two decades in the military and multiple deployments supporting crisis-response operations and counterterrorism.

How a South Carolina Military Defense Lawyer Can Help

Our SC military defense attorneys are here to help you with every aspect of your military law defense, including:

  • Getting corrections made to existing military records
  • Obtaining copies of military records
  • Defending you at all court-martial levels
  • Defense of nonjudicial punishment actions and Article 15
  • Administrative investigation representation
  • Representation for reprimands by NCOs and military officers
  • Defense surrounding officer elimination actions
  • Defense for enlisted administrative separations
  • Military court decision appeals.

Military Law FAQs

Military laws are notoriously complex. When you are facing criminal charges, these laws can be even more difficult to understand. We understand you have many questions that you need answers to regarding the military crimes you are charged with and what to expect from your case.

For that reason, we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding military law and defense below. If you have additional questions or concerns we do not cover here, make sure to contact our military defense attorneys in South Carolina to further discuss the specific circumstances of your case.

What types of allegations can a military defense lawyer challenge?

Some of the most common types of allegations our military defense attorneys can handle include:

  • Security clearance denials
  • Drug crimes
  • Sexual offenses in the military
  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Military appeals
  • Discharge upgrades
  • Military drug crimes and urinalysis
  • Records corrections
  • Court-martial defense
  • UCMJ offenses through the military
  • Military hazing
  • Nonjudicial punishment under UCMJ Article 15
  • Violent crimes
  • Military officer misconduct
  • Military sexual assault and similar offenses
  • Military Administrative Separation (ADSEP)
  • Qualitative Management Program (QMP) appeals.

What is a court-martial?

A court-martial is a type of military proceeding the military uses to hold military service members accountable when they are accused of committing a criminal offense under military laws. It is similar to a trial in judicial courts but is an entirely separate entity.

There are multiple types of court-martial proceedings designed to enforce the laws of the military and maintain discipline among military service members. These court-martial proceedings include:

  • Summary Court-Martial – A summary court-martial is used for more minor criminal offenses. Military service members have limited rights during a summary court-martial and the proceedings are overseen by a judge and jury. Punishment via a summary court-martial often includes confinement, rank reductions, and fines.
  • Special Court-Martial – in a special court-martial, the proceedings involve a defense counsel, a military judge, and a trial counselor or prosecutor. These are overseen by a panel of military service members acting as a jury. Penalties are less severe in special courts-martial than in general courts-martial.
  • General Court-Martial – With a general court-martial, military service members are accused of committing serious offenses. There are at least five military service members that act as a judge. Long-term imprisonment, the death penalty, and dishonorable discharge are some of the most common penalties of a guilty verdict via a general court-martial.

What should I do after an arrest as a military service member?

After being arrested and accused of committing a crime, it is important that you take steps to protect yourself. This is true whether you have been accused of sexual assault, drug possession, drunk driving, or a military offense. These steps include:

  1. Exercising your right to remain silent under Article 31. Military police may attempt to get you to say something incriminating or to admit fault. Protect your rights by remaining silent and not saying anything that could be used against you until your military defense attorney is present.
  2. Hire a military defense lawyer. You have the right to legal representation. Do not attempt to defend yourself. You need a powerful legal advocate on your side who understands criminal laws and military defense strategies. It is crucial that you avoid saying or doing anything that could put your defense in jeopardy.
  3. Remain silent to anyone and everyone other than your military attorney. Do not speak with family members, friends, or cellmates you may have if you are waiting to post bond. Anything you say to these parties could result in the government calling them as witnesses against you.

What posts do you serve?

Our military defense lawyers in South Carolina serve a number of military service providers across South Carolina, including:

  • Charleston Naval Weapons Station
  • The Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot
  • Shaw Air Force Base
  • The Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station
  • Fort Jackson in South Carolina
  • The Beaufort Naval Hospital

Get Help From a Reputable South Carolina Military Defense Attorney Today

The charges against you could forever alter the course of your life. Your future is in jeopardy. Prepare a powerful defense strategy and protect your rights when you get a dedicated South Carolina military defense lawyer at Whalen Montalvo on your side.

Schedule your initial consultation as soon as today when you complete our quick contact form or call our office at (864) 770-7710 to discuss your potential defense strategies.


Eric Montalvo

I come to Greenville and Whalen Montalvo after spending more than twenty years in the Marine Corps as a leader and Judge Advocate—retiring in June 2019 as a Lieutenant Colonel. Those twenty years included eight moves across six states, ten different homes, marriage to my college sweetheart, and the birth of our three girls. It also included two deployments in support of counterterrorism and crisis-response operations in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

​I attended the University of South Carolina after being awarded a Naval ROTC scholarship and graduated with a degree in Public Relations. Upon graduation I was commissioned into the Marine Corps and designated a Supply/Logistics Officer. While serving I was able to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Boston University, finishing #1 in my class. After seven years on active duty, I was selected for the Marine Corps Law Program, which started my career in the law.
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Get the best legal representation possible. Give the Greenville, SC attorneys at Whalen Montalvo a call today at (864) 770-7710 or use our online form.