Every member of the US armed forces has the right to legal representation when accused of a crime, just like every civilian. However, military members are accountable to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), a special set of laws and codes of conduct developed and enforced exclusively for military members. Every branch of service upholds different procedures for handling alleged UCMJ violations, and it’s vital for any service member in this situation to know their rights regarding defense representation.
Defense Representation for Service Members Facing Criminal Charges at Marine Corps Base Quantico
Aaron Meyer Law has extensive professional experience providing criminal defense representation to US service members stationed across the country in all branches of service. Marine Corps Base Quantico is one of the country’s oldest and most strategically critical military bases, responsible for the training and processing of US Marines who will fulfill many critical roles throughout the world. If you are stationed at Quantico and are accused of violating the UCMJ, you need a local Virginia military defense attorney you can trust with your case.
Attorney Aaron Meyer is a former US Marine with an extensive legal career focused on representing members of the military. The UCMJ is incredibly strict, and the penalties US service members face for violating various UCMJ Articles can be severe. While some penalties mirror those assigned for similar offenses in civilian criminal court, a conviction of any UCMJ violation can be far more damaging for a member of the military.
Why You Need a Virginia Military Criminal Defense Attorney
A US service member charged with violating the UCMJ faces a wide range of possible penalties. For example, the UCMJ may prescribe incarceration, financial penalties, demotion in rank, or even discharge from military service as suitable punishments for their offense. Ultimately, the UCMJ is quite strict in terms of the penalties assigned to various offenses and the procedures necessary for resolving the alleged violations of the UCMJ.
Time is a critical factor in most military criminal cases. The military aims for efficiency in internal legal proceedings. Protracted criminal cases diminish mission readiness and deplete military resources, so UCMJ cases tend to proceed rather quickly compared to most civilian criminal cases. As a result, it’s easy for the accused to feel as if the entire system and their whole branch of service are pitted against them. An experienced Virginia military criminal defense attorney is an invaluable asset in this desperate situation.
Ultimately, attempting to handle your own defense may not go well for you, even if you have been falsely accused or did not commit the offense in question. You may have the option to secure legal representation from a detailed military defense attorney, but if you can hire a private Virginia criminal defense attorney, doing so can offer a much higher degree of legal counsel.
What Is a UCMJ Violation?
The UCMJ is very strict when it comes to the expectations of US service members. Many military members are surprised to discover that the UCMJ contains many provisions related to good moral character, imposing penalties for unethical actions that are not prosecuted as crimes in civilian criminal court. For example, a married service member who commits adultery against their spouse can face legal penalties for their conduct.
If you were facing charges in civilian criminal court, finding a defense attorney familiar with cases like yours would be essential. When you are a member of any branch of the US military and face a UCMJ violation, you need a defense lawyer who understands the UCMJ and the unique procedures that apply to your branch of service.
Court-Martial Proceedings at Marine Corps Base Quantico
A court-martial is one of the most serious problems a US service member can face during their military career. Court-martial proceedings are initiated when a service member has committed a serious violation of the UCMJ. Two forms of court-martial proceedings are possible in these situations: special court-martial and general court-martial. Many relate these two levels of prosecution to the misdemeanor and felony designations commonly assigned in civilian criminal court. However, special court-martial proceedings pertain to offenses that would typically qualify as misdemeanors for civilians, whereas general court-martial proceedings reflect offenses equivalent to felonies for civilians.
The court-martial process is very different from a criminal trial for a civilian. There is no jury but rather a panel of military judges for most court-martial proceedings. Your Virginia military criminal defense attorney can help you prepare for the court-martial proceedings ahead of you if your case is likely to unfold through the court-martial process.
Potential Outcomes of Your Military Criminal Case
Not only is the UCMJ much stricter than the legal expectations imposed on most civilians in the United States, but the penalties for violating the UCMJ can vastly exceed the scope of penalties for committing a similar offense as a civilian. Many service members convicted of UCMJ violations face incarceration, forfeiture of their military pay and allowances, demotion in rank, or even forcible discharge from military service.
These penalties may seem severe, but they are even worse when you account for the long-term effects they can have after military life. The nature of a service member’s discharge from military service can have a profound impact on their civilian life, primarily when it comes to securing employment. Many employers will be unwilling to hire someone who has been dishonorably discharged from the military. A dishonorable discharge can also prevent the former service member from qualifying for financial aid or financing, and they may be prohibited from working in a certain field.
Ultimately, it is easy to feel distressed when considering the potential penalties that you could face if you are convicted of violating the UCMJ. However, the sooner you speak with an experienced Virginia military criminal defense attorney about your case, the better prepared you will be to face the challenges ahead. Attorney Aaron Meyer and the team at Aaron Meyer Law can provide the defense representation you need for any criminal case in Marine Corps Base Quantico. Contact our team today to learn more about our legal services and how we can assist you with your case.