When you have been accused of committing a transgression of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), you may receive a non-judicial punishment or an administrative discipline called an Article 15.
Your commander will often decide whether your minor violation of the UCMJ should lead to a court-martial case or if you should be offered an Article 15. Those who are offered an Article 15 will have their commander read the charges issued against them. They will also hear the evidence that the government has against you at that point. After this, you will be able to speak with an attorney and then decide whether you wish to accept the Article 15. However, you generally have only two or three days to make this decision.
Should you decide to accept the Article 15, you will need to establish a written defense. You can also choose whether to appear before the commander in order to give a statement regarding the allegations against you and to present your evidence. Then the commander will make the decision as to whether or not you are guilty. So, how can you decide the best option for moving forward?
Not an Admission of Guilt
It’s important to acknowledge that accepting an Article 15 does not mean that you are also admitting guilt of any kind. Rather, you are simply stating that you permit the issuing commander to serve as the decisionmaker in determining your guilt. Then, if the commander finds that you are guilty, he or she will be the sole determinant of your punishment. But it’s important to know that you may still appeal a conviction and punishment with the next ranking commander.
In determining whether or not to accept an Article 15, you must weigh the likelihood of being convicted and facing a discharge from the military. The good news is that if you accept an Article 15, you will not risk going to prison, having a federal conviction on your record, or receiving a punitive discharge (e.g. a Dishonorable Discharge). These punishments are reserved solely for a court-martial. However, you could face the loss of pay for a period of time, extra duty or restriction to barracks.
Court Martial is Your Best Bet for Beating the Charges
Should you decide to turn down an Article 15, you have the best chance of beating the charges against you. If you go to court-martial but are still convicted, there’s a good chance that you will only receive the punishments that you would’ve received at the Article 15 level since you can show that you were originally offered this.
The Court-Martial Law Division of Aviso Law LLC Helps Military Members in Colorado Who Have Been Charged with a Crime
The U.S. Government has an interest in obtaining a conviction as soon as possible, as it does not wish to gain negative publicity about one of its service members. That is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced military attorney as soon as possible.
If you are a military service member and have been charged with a crime under the UCMJ, the Court-Martial Law Division of Aviso Law LLC can help. We proudly serve our military members, who sacrifice so much for our country. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!