Military personnel are governed by laws that differ from those applied to civilians. When facing criminal charges, members of the armed forces should consult an attorney who is experienced in military criminal defense law. For over 20 years, The lawyers at Vindicate have successfully handled all types of military criminal defense cases, establishing an impressive track record of case dismissals and acquittals. The lawyers at Vindicate include a former U.S. Marine, we are dedicated to defending the rights of service members throughout Washington.
Military Criminal Defense in Washington
Criminal proceedings are important to the large number of soldiers stationed in Washington. With Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) and Naval Base Kitsap nearby, Washington residents are fortunate to count various soldiers, marines, and pilots as their neighbors. But few civilians understand the dedication and sacrifice demanded of those in service. Even fewer know the distinct rules governing the prosecution of military personnel. But the intersection of federal, state, and military law is vital to everyday proceedings in military bases throughout Washington.
The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)
The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) protects the rights of military personnel charged with certain crimes. Unlike grand jury proceedings, the accused has the right to mount a defense and cross-examine witnesses. But after the formal investigation, the punishment leveled against service men and women can be severe. Under the UCMJ, prosecution of minor breaches that would have resulted in a criminal conviction can result in lasting consequences
Minor breaches addressed through non-judicial proceedings can result in correctional custody, additional duties, and forfeiture of pay. The charge and manner of discipline remains on your permanent record. More serious cases are tried in Courts-Martial and carry severe penalties. A court-martial also remains on your permanent record and can affect future employment. The UCMF covers a variety of criminal conduct prohibited under state and federal statutes, including:
- Rape, sodomy
- Indecent assault
- Carnal knowledge
- Abusive sexual contact
- Aggravated sexual abuse
- Indecent acts with a child
- Pandering and prostitution
The Lautenberg Amendment to the Gun Control Act of 1968
The Lautenberg Amendment applies to military personnel in the Army Reserve, Coast Guard, National Guard, and ROTC, who are generally not subject to the UCMJ. This law makes it a felony for those convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence to ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms. The Amendment also makes it a felony to transfer firearms or ammunition to those who are known or reasonably believed to have a conviction. A conviction requires proving the use of force or a deadly weapon and a familial relationship with the victim, such as a spouse or child. The firearms prohibition applies to officers and soldiers alike.
The Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA)
MEJA applies U.S. laws to civilians employed by the armed forces and to American military contractors living abroad. It gives U.S. courts power to prosecute crimes committed by U.S. citizens in foreign jurisdictions. MEJA only applies to felony crimes, not infractions or misdemeanors, but may still cover crimes that are not prosecuted abroad. Because it is new, the scope and effect of MEJA is still unknown. Experienced legal counsel in MEJA cases is therefore important.
Effective Legal Representation in Military Criminal Defense Matters
If you are in the military and have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced military criminal defense lawyer today. Because military laws differ substantially from normal federal and state laws, it is imperative to secure qualified legal representation in these cases. Vindicate Criminal Law has extensive experience defending servicemen and women against criminal charges throughout western Washington. We are recognized for our knowledge of military and criminal law, especially with respect to assault and domestic violence cases. We are dedicated to helping members of the armed forces recover their reputations and clear their names. Contact us today for your confidential case evaluation, or call (888) 212-4824