The Los Angeles Air Force Base is one of the country’s largest, busiest, and most strategically important US military bases. The base is home to thousands of personnel, and many US service members live and work throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan area. If you are stationed at the Los Angeles Air Force Base and are charged with violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), you need to know your best available options for resolving the situation.
Military Criminal Defense Counsel for Los Angeles Air Force Base Service Members
Members of the military are not only expected to follow the same laws that apply to civilians but also the Articles of the UCMJ, each of which outlines a different aspect of military life and the laws for all US service members. While there are many similarities between the criminal court procedures for civilians and those used in the military, there are many key differences that every defendant must understand.
Aaron Meyer Law has helped many past clients in all branches of service approach their cases with greater confidence and peace of mind. Attorney Aaron Meyer is a former US Marine and Judge Advocate, and he has years of military criminal defense experience that very few private defense attorneys in the country can come close to matching. Aaron Meyer Law has a spotless professional record of successful cases thanks to Attorney Meyer’s keen attention to detail and dedication to aggressively defending his clients’ rights. If you face allegations of violating the UCMJ in any way at Los Angeles Air Force Base, our team can provide the comprehensive criminal defense representation you need to feel more confident in this challenging situation.
Understanding Military Criminal Court Procedure
The military has an internal judicial system used to address alleged violations of the UCMJ among its service members. While each branch uses different procedures, all branches adhere to the articles of the UCMJ. Many offenses that can lead to military judicial penalties are not crimes for civilians. For example, adultery could cause a civilian marriage to deteriorate and lead to divorce, but the adulterous spouse would not face prosecution. However, under the UCMJ, it is unlawful for a member of the military to have an extramaritalaffair, and doing so can lead not only to a messy divorce but also to judicial proceedings against the at-fault service member.
The branches of the military use a tiered system for addressing UCMJ violations. The least severe offenses will often lead to Article 15 citations. When a commanding officer issues an Article 15 citation, this is a formal reprimand for a minor UCMJ violation, poor performance, or a minor dereliction of duty such as uniform violation, lateness, or other performance-related issues. In addition, a commanding officer has the right to issue a formal verbal and/or written reprimand and assign nonjudicial penalties to the subordinate in question.
More serious offenses or consistent poor performance could lead to administrative separation. While this may not be as severe as facing a dishonorable discharge for a severe UCMJ violation, the record of the defendant’s administrative separation from the military could still cause problems with their civilian life after prematurely ending their military career. The most serious judicial proceedings a member of the military can face is a court-martial, and there are two forms of court-martial procedures used to resolve severe UCMJ violations.
Understanding Court-martial Proceedings in the Military
The two forms of court-martial proceedings a US military member could face are the special court-martial and the general court-martial. Many offenses that qualify as misdemeanors for civilians would fall within the purview of a special court-martial in the military, and felony-level offenses are likely to lead to general court-martial proceedings.
There are many important differences between military criminal court proceedings and civilian criminal court proceedings. First, a service member will face a panel of judges, not a judge and jury. It is also possible for some defendants to request a trial by a judge alone, and this option has several potential risks and possible benefits. Finally, unlike a civilian criminal court that requires a unanimous verdict, a court-martial requires a majority vote.
When a US service member is convicted of violating the UCMJ, their case proceeds immediately to sentencing. Penalties for violations of the UCMJ can be severe, including fines, forfeiture of pay and allowances, demotion in rank, confinement, and other penalties assigned at the discretion of the panel overseeing the case. The most severe offenses are likely to be met with removal from service in the form of a dishonorable or other than honorable discharge, incarceration in military prison, and various other long-term penalties.
Beyond the punishments assigned during sentencing, the defendant will also face various personal and professional consequences. Their military career could be over, and they could be disqualified from various government benefits programs. They will likely have trouble qualifying for financing or financial aid, and their job prospects are likely to be limited due to their military separation record.
What to Expect From a Los Angeles Military Criminal Defense Attorney
Time is a critical concern for any member of the military charged with violating the UCMJ. The military judicial system moves very quickly, and the defendant has a limited time to secure defense representation. While a detailed military attorney can be assigned to represent the defendant at no cost, any defendant with the means to hire private defense counsel is better served by doing so. The right attorney can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of your case and potentially help you preserve your military career.
If you work at the Los Angeles Air Force Base and have been accused of violating the UCMJ, the sooner you speak with a defense attorney, the more time they have to build your defense. You must prepare your defense as quickly as possible, and you have the right to present evidence, testimony, and your own arguments in your defense. An experienced Los Angeles military criminal defense attorney can provide invaluable guidance and keen insights to help you make more informed decisions about your case.
Trusted defense counsel is the most important asset on your side when your military career is at stake. Aaron Meyer Law has years of professional experience representing clients stationed at the Los Angeles Air Force Base and military installations across the country. Attorney Aaron Meyer can provide the responsive and efficient defense representation you need to overcome your situation. Contact us today and schedule your consultation with a Los Angeles military criminal defense attorney you can trust.