What to Expect When You’ve Been Accused of a Military Crime

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When you’ve worked really hard to establish your military career, it can be terrifying to find that you have been accused of a crime. You don’t want to see everything that you’ve worked so hard for to fall apart. 

Whether you have been accused of something as serious as sexual assault or have been advised that your urinalysis tested positive, it can be extremely scary to not know what will happen. This is what you should expect when you’ve been accused of a military crime

After the Accusation

Right after being accused of a crime, it’s likely that military investigators will become involved asking you for everything from a cheek swab for DNA to your consent to search your home or personal belongings. However, prior to speaking with you, these military investigators are obligated to advise you of your rights under Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). They are mandated to advise you of the following:

  • The crime of which you have been accused (before questioning you);
  • You have the right to remain silent (and not say anything), which cannot be held against you;
  • You have the right to an attorney at no expense (including a military attorney); and 
  • You have the right to refuse to answer questions at any point in time.

Depending upon the charges against you, you may decide to speak with investigators or to remain silent.

While the investigation is going on, you should be working with a knowledgeable and experienced military defense attorney. While you will be assigned to someone free of charge, you can also choose to hire a civilian military defense attorney. Regardless, your attorney is responsible for keeping you up-to-date on the details of your case. 

Expectations During the Investigation

It’s important that you understand what to expect in most cases:

For cases in which you have been accused of sexual assault or something of a similar nature, it’s likely that you will receive a protective order, of which you must comply. Should you violate this order you can face even more serious consequences. 

For cases that occur when you are about to deploy, separate, relocate, or retire, it’s most likely that these plans will be placed on hold. You may also be reassigned to different work during this period of time. Don’t think of this as a collective opinion of your guilt. Instead, work hard at whatever you are assigned to do. If nothing else, it can serve to demonstrate your character. 

Additionally, for most cases, it’s likely that these military investigators will reach out to your family and friends in order to ask them about you. As difficult as it may feel, it’s imperative that you do not attempt to interfere with this process, as you could be found guilty of obstructing justice. 

After the Investigation

After the investigation, which can sometimes take over a year to conclude, military prosecutors will start to work with your command, recommending charges, referred to as “preferral of charges,” against you and as well as your potential punishment.

If charges are preferred against you, the court-martial process will start. This process will consist of a preliminary hearing, a referral of charges, and an arraignment. There’s no doubt that the situation can be extremely alarming to be facing the military justice system. However, with the right attorney, you can have confidence that your interests are being protected.

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 (active or reserve) 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!

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