I'm Being Court Martialed. Now What?

I'm Being Court Martialed. Now What?

Are you facing court martial in the U.S. Armed Forces? If so, you need to take immediate steps to improve your chances of a positive result at trial.

1) Understand the government is going to do everything they can to convict you of a crime and give you the maximum sentence they can muster. Yes, after a court martial hands down a harsh sentence, young prosecutors go behind closed doors, slap each other on the back, and congratulate each other for the huge sentence they just won. They don't care about you, why you did what you did or whether the evidence points toward innocence. Although it is sometimes (rarely) granted, don't expect leniency from a military prosecutor.

2) Your chain of command is no longer on your side. In the military court martial process, it is your commander who must sign the document recommending or referring your case to court martial. They are no longer fighting for you, regardless of what they say. Think twice before offering information or explanations to your chain of command. Before doing so, be sure to talk it over with an experienced military defense lawyer.

3) Law enforcement is not on your side. Police almost always read Miranda warnings to those under arrest: "anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law…." Statements made to law enforcement after these rights are read are almost always read to a jury at a court martial. Rarely should anyone cooperate with law enforcement without first talking to a military criminal defense attorney.

4) Start gathering important documents now. Anything that makes you look good (awards, decorations, training certificates, etc.) can be helpful. Also, make a list of everyone who may be willing to testify at trial, or provide a letter, regarding your positive characteristics. Include their contact information. Make sure your military lawyer has a copy of all of these documents early in the process.

5) Look for a lawyer that has "the heart of a teacher." By that, I mean find a military lawyer who is willing to take the time to explain the process you are going through and the decisions he is making. It's a complex process, and many military defense attorneys get too bogged down with other clients to give each of them the attention they deserve. At Dishman Military Advocates, we keep our client list small, so we can give personal attention to each and every person who hires us. We want our clients to know what they are going through so they can make the best decisions in their cases. Ultimately, this will lend itself to winning the best result in your court martial.

6) Ensure you are comfortable with your lawyer and that he or she is willing to fight for you. This is critical. Most military-appointed counsel are recent law school graduates who have little experience in trial defense. Trial is hard, and it takes even the best lawyers years to master the craft. In addition, many civilian lawyers will take a court martial case with little experience in the military court system.

Brent Dishman has defended hundreds of military clients in their courts martial, and he only practices military law. He has proven time and again that hiring him is well worth the financial cost. Remember, your freedom, retirement, pay, dignity and honor are on the line. The result of this court martial will impact you for the rest of your life. Don't take a chance on just any attorney. Call Brent Dishman at Dishman Military Advocates today for a free consultation.

Categories: Court Martial
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