5 Things to Consider When Choosing Your Court-Martial Lawyer
Being accused of a crime can be a terrifying experience. However, being accused of committing a crime in the military can be even more traumatic for service members as it is a completely different criminal system. Although many people have an idea of how the civilian criminal justice system works, things can be a bit more confusing in the military.
Generally speaking, a criminal trial in the military is called a court-martial. The process differs in many ways from the civilian criminal trial and because of that, a court martial lawyer is usually assigned to defend servicemen who have been accused of committing a crime in the military.
In order to protect your rights, reputation and freedom, you need to hire an experienced lawyer to represent you in court. So, if you have a pending court-martial trial, here are five things you should look for when choosing your lawyer.
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The Type of Court-Martials
If you have been accused of a crime in the military, you first need to learn the different types of court-martial to choose the one that is most suitable for your case. In general, the United Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) will try you in one of the three types of court-martial and these are:
- General court-martial;
- Special court-martial;
- Summary court-martial.
For example, a general court-martial is the most serious type and is used to try felony offenses such as murder, sexual assault, and pornography for which the penalties can be incarceration, dishonorable discharge, and even death. According to statistics, in 2022 around 2,500 prisoners in the US were facing execution. However, for 20 consecutive years, the national death-row population has declined.
Experience in Military Service
Although offenders can choose between a civilian defense attorney and a court-martial lawyer to defend them in court, it is advised that you choose the latter when being accused of committing a crime in the military.
The main reason for this is that court-martial lawyers usually have experience in military service. This means they possess valuable insight into the daily life and activities of service members, which can further help increase your chances of winning your case compared to choosing a civilian defense attorney who has no experience in the military whatsoever.
Specialized Knowledge of Military Law
In order for a court-martial lawyer to represent you in court, they need to have specialized knowledge in military law, no matter what branch of armed services you serve in. This includes understanding all the rules, regulations, and legal structures that govern military personnel and using them efficiently to represent you when you go to trial.
In addition to having adequate knowledge of military law, you should also look for a court-martial lawyer which has trial experience and will guide you every step of the way to prepare you for trial and help you win your case.
Being accused of committing a crime in the military is undoubtedly a life-changing event. The cost of losing is huge and the outcome could instantly change your life and the lives of your loved ones. That’s why you need an experienced and highly skilled court-martial lawyer who knows how to handle cases like yours and will have your best interest at heart throughout the entire process.
To determine whether the court-martial lawyer you have chosen for your case is the right one, you should look at their success rates and see how successful they have been. You can ask your attorney to give you an outline of previously won cases or do your own research to check their track record.
Clarity and Honesty
When you are discussing your case with a court-martial lawyer, you probably want to hear that they guarantee a sure win in court. While this is all normal, you should be more realistic and look for an attorney who will be direct and honest with you and tell you exactly how things are.
If your lawyer makes promises and gives you guarantees of desirable outcomes even before you hire them, then you should know that they aren’t completely honest and only want your money.
When you are being accused of committing a crime in the military, you need to hire a court-martial lawyer to represent you in court. To ensure a win and protect your rights, freedom and reputation, they need to be highly qualified for the job, have adequate knowledge of military law and possess trial experience.
For more information, refer to our post and read what you need to look for when choosing a court-martial lawyer.