Navy Military Defense Lawyers

Navy Criminal Defense Lawyers

Navy Court-Martial Lawyers: An Overview of the Military Justice System

Joining the military grants you certain privileges in life, but it also holds you more accountable in turn. So it’s essential to know all of your legal rights, whether you’re serving overseas or in the United States. The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) contains all the laws governing the military justice system. It provides the punishments for various crimes as well as procedural protections.

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Navy criminal defense lawyers specialize in defending service members accused of military crimes. Some Navy court-martial attorney focus on protecting US Navy sailors from false accusations of military sexual assault and defending Article 120, UCMJ allegations in military courts. Due to the high standards and expectations, military members can face much longer sentences than civilians. If found guilty, they would also lose access to any pay and allowances. Here’s everything you need to know about the military justice system and the value of Navy military defense lawyers.

Court-Martial Overview

When a member of the military has been accused of a serious crime, they’re court-martialed. Less serious offenses are dealt with at a Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP). There are three different types of courts-martial, summary court-martial, special court-martial, and general court-martial.

A summary court-martial has one officer as judge and jury. A summary court-martial is usually utilized for less severe offenses above an NJP. Like any other court session, the accused can call for witnesses, testify, and hire an attorney to represent them. There is no free military attorney, however. The most common sentences are up to one month confinement, hard labor, or a loss of rank.

A special court-martial has three or more members in a panel and a military judge. Punishments can range from a Bad Conduct Discharge up to confinement of over a year. General courts-martial sessions have more than five members in a panel and a judge. This type acts as a felony court, with the worst sentence being death.

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Collateral Consequences of a Military Conviction

  • Loss of all veteran and government benefits
  • Loss of disability and unemployment benefits
  • Loss of voting rights.
  • Loss of the ability to legally own or possess firearms.
  • Inability to qualify for bank loans or college financial aid.
  • Difficulty in obtaining meaningful employment.
  • Criminal records will remain in law enforcement databases.

Military Justice System vs. Civilian Court

The biggest difference between the military justice system and your ordinary civilian court is the expectations and punishments. In the military, there’s a big focus on discipline. A Navy sailor may go to court for repeatedly showing up to work late or disrespect. They can also end up imprisoned for desertion, missing movement, fraternization, AWOL, and various General Article 134 UCMJ offenses.

Navy Criminal Defense Lawyers

The overall goal of the Navy’s military justice system is to maintain good order and discipline within the Navy. In civilian court, legal proceedings are meant to resolve disputes and hold people accountable. While a unanimous vote is required to be found guilty in civilian court, it’s not necessary for military courts. A three-fourths vote is required for a sentence of life imprisonment, and all else requires a two-thirds vote. The death penalty is the only thing that requires unanimity.

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What Happens if You’re Suspected of a Crime in the Navy?

Navy criminal defense lawyers and other military defense lawyers specialize in dealing with the intricacies of the military justice court-martial system. Not only can someone get accused of civilian crimes, but they also have to face military offenses. Combine the two, and you have a serious accusation that can derail your entire life. For example, military sexual assault can mean imprisonment and losing any privileges earned in your time in the Navy. Here’s what can happen if you’re suspected of a serious crime while in the Navy.

Sexual Assault in the Navy

Military sexual assault is taken very seriously. Punishment for such can range from dishonorable discharge to prison time. It may even result in a lifetime prison term. In a military sexual assault case, the prosecution must prove that you’ve committed the accused crime beyond a reasonable doubt. As such, an accusation doesn’t mean the end of everything.

Military Sexual Crimes in the Navy

One of the most important defenses in a military sexual assault or rape case is mistake of fact as to consent. In other words, you believed that the alleged victim had consented and that you had no intent to commit a crime. Our experienced military sexual assault lawyers can walk you through the process and advise you on your defenses.

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Collateral Consequences of Sex Offender Registration:

  • Denied housing
  • Loss of family
  • Isolation
  • No educational opportunities
  • Unemployable
  • Physical assault
  • Increased homelessness
  • Harassment
  • Financial hardship
  • Stigmatization
  • The decline in mental health
  • No internet access
  • Deterioration of social bonds
  • Loss of residency

Drug Offenses

All branches of the military have a zero-tolerance policy towards controlled substances. Even though marijuana is now legal in certain states, the military discharges service members who fail drug tests.

Not only can drug offenses ruin your military career, but they can also land you in prison. Moreover, since the military operates separately from the civilian court, it can serve more serious punishments for drug use.

General court-martial maximum sentence:

  • Dishonorable discharge (enlisted)
  • Dismissal (officers)
  • A Dishonorable Discharge or Dismissal is mandatory for certain sexual offenses.
  • Total Forfeiture of all pay and allowances
  • Confinement for life without eligibility for parole
  • Death
  • Reduction to the grade of E-1
  • A fine
  • A reprimand
  • Hard about without confinement
  • Restriction
  • If convicted of certain sexual offenses, the service member has to register as a sex offender.

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Desertion and AWOL

Desertion is one of the worst crimes you can commit during wartime, possibly landing you a death sentence. Outside of war, the maximum punishment is dishonorable discharge, loss of pay, and five-year imprisonment.

A member may be considered AWOL if they’ve failed to go to an appointed place, left an appointed place, or otherwise abandoned their post. Similar to desertion, it could lead to your dishonorable discharge and one-year confinement.

More often than not, the result of desertion or AWOL is an administrative discharge, otherwise known as administrative separation.

Administrative Separations

The military judge or panel, at a General court-martial, can sentence the accused to a bad conduct or dishonorable discharge. However, the command may also opt for administrative separations.  A dishonorable discharge is a punitive discharge. It can only get handed down in a general court-martial in response to a serious offense.

However, an administrative separation is more akin to getting fired from your job in the Navy. While it’s less severe than a court-martial conviction and punitive discharge, it can still negatively affect your employment opportunities. If you hear that you’re being considered for administrative separations, reach out to court-martial lawyers as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of the accusations, you may get barred from reenlisting in the future or receiving veterans’ benefits.

Finding Navy Criminal Defense Lawyers

Facing prosecution by a military court-martial is a stressful experience. A Navy court-martial can result in not only losing your career but also possible jail time. When you’re a Navy sailor accused of a criminal offense in violation of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, reach out to the best Navy criminal defense lawyers available. They can help prove your innocence and contest the charges.

The Navy court-martial lawyers at González & Waddington have years of experience defending cases in military courts worldwide. Contact one of our military defense attorneys today if you’re accused of a military sex crime or any other offense under the UCMJ.

Punishments if convicted in a military court-martial.

Summary court-martial maximum sentence:

  • One month confinement
  • Hard labor without confinement for 45 days,
    Restriction for two months
  • Forfeiture of two-thirds of 1 month’s pay.
  • Enlisted members above E-4 may not be sentenced to confinement, hard labor without confinement, or reduced pay grade beyond one pay grade.

Special court-martial maximum sentence:

  • Bad Conduct Discharge (enlisted)
  • Forfeiture of two-thirds pay
  • Confinement for twelve months
  • Reduction to the grade of E-1
  • A fine
  • A reprimand
  • Hard about without confinement
  • Restriction
  • If convicted of certain sexual offenses, the service member has to register as a sex offender.

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Our Navy court-martial defense attorneys defend Sailors at the following Navy bases worldwide:

California Navy Bases

Connecticut Navy Bases

Washington, D.C. Navy Bases

Florida Navy Bases

Georgia Navy Bases

Guam Navy Bases

Hawaii Navy Bases

Illinois Navy Bases

Louisiana Navy Bases

Maine Navy Bases

Maryland Navy Bases

Mississippi Navy Bases

Nevada Navy Bases

New Jersey Navy Bases

Pennsylvania Navy Bases

Rhode Island Navy Bases

South Carolina Navy Bases

Tennessee Navy Bases

Texas Navy Bases

Virginia Navy Bases

Washington Navy Bases

West Virginia Navy Bases

Overseas US Navy Installations:

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