Criminal laws can impact military personnel in ways different from regular citizens. If you are in the Armed Forces and charged with a crime, contact Vindicate Criminal Law Group.
Military personnel operate under obligations and pressures that few in civilian society understand. The lawyers at Vindicate include a former U.S. Marine, and that helps us to understand exactly what the men and women in our Armed Forces go through. We have successfully represented military personnel in western Washington, including soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) and Naval Base Kitsap, in a variety of legal matters.
Military Criminal Defense Requires an Experienced Lawyer
Military law, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), operates differently from the federal or state criminal justice systems. In some instances, the Code gives improved protections to servicemen and women facing criminal charges. For example, during a formal investigation, the accused has the right to present evidence, call witnesses, and cross-examine prosecution witnesses. In Washington State, as well as in federal criminal prosecutions, the accused has no rights in grand jury proceedings, and indeed often does not even know about the grand jury investigation.
The UCMJ criminalizes and provides for penalties for a wide variety of conduct, often mirroring criminal conduct that is prohibited under state law. These cases are tried in Courts-Martial and can result in very severe criminal penalties. More minor breaches under the UCMJ can be addressed through non-judicial punishment. Non-judicial punishment is not a criminal conviction, but it may go on your permanent record, and can result in correctional custody or restriction to quarters, additional duties, and forfeiture of pay. In most cases a serviceman or woman can reject non-judicial punishment and request a court martial.
Reservists, Coast Guard, National Guard, and ROTC personnel are generally not subject to the UCMJ. Nonetheless, criminal laws can also have unique impacts on these members of the military. The Lautenberg Amendment is one law that can have serious implications for all members of the Armed Forces. Under the Amendment, where an individual is convicted for a crime involving use of force or a deadly weapon, and there is a particular familial relationship between the defendant and the victim such as a spousal or parent/child relationship, it is a felony under federal law for the defendant to possess or otherwise handle firearms or ammunition. The Amendment applies to all members of the Armed Forces, and may severely impact any military career.
Special laws also apply to military contractors. The Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA) applies U.S. laws to civilian contractors and federal employees abroad whose work supports the Armed Forces. If authorities in the foreign nation where a contractor allegedly commits a crime do not prosecute, the contractor may still be prosecuted under MEJA using U.S. law. This complex and relatively new law can have severe consequences for military contractors abroad.
As experienced military law attorneys in Washington, we have successfully assisted servicemen and women and related individuals facing a wide variety of criminal charges throughout western Washington. We understand the areas where local criminal law, military law, and military status can overlap, including in assault and domestic violence allegations. We will advise you of your rights and options, and aggressively investigate and defend you against the charges. Contact us today for your confidential case evaluation, or call (888) 212-4824