Q: Should I hire a civilian military murder defense attorney or accept the free military defense counsel?
If you are a service member charged with murder, you need to consider hiring a skilled military murder defense attorney with the experience, time, resources, and passion to fight for you. Just as in civilian court, those charged with murder face serious punishment if convicted and are entitled to a free defense attorney. But do you really want to trust your future in the military, your freedom, and possibly your life to the overworked and often inexperienced free military defense counsel–the person appointed by and employed by the same organization that is prosecuting you?
Choosing a civilian defense attorney with a record of success in military murder cases can potentially:
- mitigate charges down (saving years or decades in jail):
- mitigate consequences of the conviction based on sympathetic and/or explanatory factors like PTSD, mental health issues and a strong service history
- negotiate reduced charges or sentencing terms
- proceed to trial aggressively, if needed.
Recently, the husband in a military couple was charged with murder in the death of his three-month-old son. The U.S. Air Force Colonel was reportedly originally charged that he “intended to kill or greatly harm” his son, but pleaded guilty “to a lesser murder charge of endangering another person” a violation of Article 118.
Sometimes an Article 118 case (premeditated murder) can be identified as Article 119 case (manslaughter), which would be an example of the mitigation down and/or negotiation of reduced charges by defense counsel. The distinction between Article 118 and Article 119 can make the difference between years and decades in jail.
After court martial, the Colonel was sentenced as follows:
- 30 years confinement
- rank reduction to lowest enlisted grade
- dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force
- forfeiture of all pay and allowances.
He could have faced a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole as well as a dishonorable discharge.
When questioned by the judge during his court martial the airman reportedly admitted to repeatedly striking his baby in the head with “significant force” out of frustration while feeding him. The baby was rushed to the hospital, declared brain-dead, and died three days later. His mother is also a service member, but was reportedly not home at the time of the incident.
If you are a service member and have been charged or expect to be charged with any kind of crime, the civilian military defense attorneys at Aviso Law, LLC can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.
From our offices in Colorado Springs and Denver, Colorado, we represent service members– active or retired– of all ranks and in all branches, anywhere in the world.