1. Why do you need a civilian defense attorney?
It is quite common to encounter an inexperienced uniformed judge advocate, sometimes right out of law school. With little to no exposure as practicing attorneys in military law, these newly minted judge advocates are routinely detailed to servicemembers suspected of misconduct by the government, even though they have never argued in front of a military judge or represented an individual at a contested court-martial. Experience does matter.
Other criteria to consider when deciding whether pursue civilian representation include:
Additionally, uniformed judge advocates commonly carry heavy caseloads—sometimes as many as thirty separate cases. Civilian defense attorneys do not normally manage such a high volume of cases; thus it is far more likely that a civilian defense attorney will devote to you the amount of time and attention your case deserves.
A dedicated and seasoned legal advocate can guide you through your military justice proceedings, whether they include trial or a review board.
2. How much does civilian defense representation cost?
The cost of legal defense services depends on a host of variables. Generally, the more complex and serious the charges, the more time and effort is needed to effectively defend against them. For instance, a servicemember accused of sexually assaulting three females, who is facing 20 separate charges and specifications at a general court-martial, will require great effort and time on the part of his defense counsel. Military Justice Attorneys strives to make legal representation affordable when considering the facts and circumstances of your case.
3. How can I afford a civilian defense attorney?
Military Justice Attorneys is dedicated to your well-being and will work with you to find a creative way to manage legal fees. Servicemembers facing criminal charges have often used their savings, relied on family members and friends, taken out home-equity lines, or used credit cards in order to pay for their legal services. Acquiring competent legal representation is an investment well worth the initial cost.
In addition, Military Justice Attorneys charges affordable flat rates. This means you can call us without worrying about being charged in six-minute increments. It is also important to consider that Military Justice Attorneys do not generally carry heavy caseloads, so they can ensure that each client receives the required attention.
4. Is the initial consultation free?
Yes, and please do not hesitate to contact us.
5. When should I hire a civilian defense attorney?
In general, the earlier the servicemember retains a civilian defense attorney, the better, for a host of reasons. The early stages of investigation, before the preferral of charges, can provide an excellent opportunity to engage the command on alternative ways to dispose of the allegations. Though a command would never admit it, convenience does matter—even more than ensuring good order and discipline. Commanding Officers/Generals want to fight wars, not convene courts, and sometimes simply getting to them early can greatly benefit the servicemember accused of misconduct.
Another important advantage to hiring an attorney immediately is that law enforcement and commands can no longer interrogate or ask questions of the accused, unless consent is given by the defense counsel.
6. Will my command find out if I consult a civilian defense attorney?
No. This is a very common concern that can leave servicemembers reluctant to reach out for the legal counsel they need, but it is an entirely baseless fear. First, you have a right to civilian counsel. Second, Military Justice Attorneys practices professional discretion regarding its clients and does not communicate with client commands beyond the requirements of the legal proceedings.
7. My son/daughter is in trouble with his/her command. What can I do to help him/her?
For any concerned parent, the first step is to get as many details as possible from your son or daughter and then call Military Justice Attorneys. During your free initial consultation with us, you will receive an explanation of how the military justice system works, what stage your son or daughter is currently in, and what courses of action can be taken to protect him or her and defend against the allegations.
8. What happens to my Medical Evaluation Board if I get in legal trouble?
Depending on the military service concerned, the Medical or Physical Evaluation Board will simply stop moving forward until all pending legal issues are resolved. Thus, a Sergeant in the Marine Corps who is under investigation for use of a controlled substance will not have his Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) referred to a Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) for initial determination until the criminal matter is concluded. In this situation, the Sergeant may have to be found not guilty at a court-martial before any administrative hearing related to his medical discharge can occur.
Needless to say, this process is complex for any servicemember to navigate either alone or with an inexperienced uniformed judge advocate. Military Justice Attorneys strongly advises that you hire a military lawyer if you are facing such a gauntlet.
9. Should I accept or refuse Article 15/NJP?
This important question has been pondered by thousands of servicemembers over the years. In today’s military, an Article 15/NJP entry in a servicemember’s record book is no insignificant matter. Although Article 15/NJP convictions do not result in a federal criminal record, they often do affect the servicemember’s ability to promote in rank within his or her military occupational specialty, as well as eligibility to re-enlist.
Ultimately, the question comes down to risk. If a servicemember feels strongly that he or she committed no misconduct and plans to refuse NJP, he or she must also be willing to assume the risk of going to a court-martial. This is because many Commanding Officers/Generals notified of an NJP-refusal will simply refer the allegations to a court-martial. There are many factors for the servicemember to consider and weigh, and it is very important that experienced legal advice is sought before decision-making. Contact Military Justice Attorneys for your free consultation.
The SCRA, enacted in 2003 and amended several times since then, revised and expanded the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act of 1940, a law designed to ease financial burdens on servicemembers during periods of military service. The SCRA enables servicemembers to devote their time and attention to the defense needs of the Nation by providing protections related to such things as rental agreements, security deposits, prepaid rent, evictions, installment contracts, credit card interest rates, automobile repossessions, mortgage interest rates, mortgage foreclosures, civil judicial proceedings, automobile leases, life insurance, health insurance and income tax payments.
11. How does the SCRA protect my home from foreclosure?
If you obtained a mortgage before you entered into military service, then the SCRA requires that your lender get a court order before it can foreclose on your home during any period of military service and for nine months thereafter. The lender must get a court order even in states that generally allow foreclosures without a court order. If your lender seeks such a court order, and you can show that you have been unable to meet your financial obligation because of your military service, the court must temporarily stay the proceedings or adjust the amount of your obligation to the lender.