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September 2009
Tim Bilecki

No Charges Preferred Against Navy Chief After Alleged DUI and Weapon Threat

No charges preferred. Case resolved administratively
JSOTF – P, Zamboanga, Philippines
Navy Chief Petty Officer - E-7
Charges never preferred

In a high-stakes situation in Zamboanga, Philippines, a Navy Chief Petty Officer serving with the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines (JSOTF-P) found himself accused of serious offenses. The allegations included attempted murder, brandishing a weapon, and driving while intoxicated, stemming from an incident where the Chief Petty Officer was suspected of causing an accident while under the influence and then threatening a local Filipina with his weapon.

The gravity of the situation was heightened as the Philippine authorities considered arresting and charging the Chief Petty Officer. Concurrently, the JSOTF-P was contemplating the preferral of over 20 charges following a rapidly conducted investigation.

Recognizing the severity of his predicament, the Chief Petty Officer sought the expertise of Mr. Tim Bilecki, a seasoned court martial attorney known for handling complex military cases in the Philippines. Bilecki swiftly engaged with multiple stakeholders, including the Special Forces command, the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Public Affairs Office (PAO), and his local contacts to mitigate the media attention surrounding the case.

In a strategic move, Bilecki negotiated an understanding with the PNP to prevent the filing of charges against the Navy Chief Petty Officer in the Philippine judicial system. He also communicated to the JSOTF-P the intent to defend the case vigorously, highlighting the potential for a prolonged and challenging trial should they decide to prefer charges.

As preparations for an independent investigation by Bilecki in the Philippines were underway, the gravity of a full-blown court-martial trial became apparent to the prosecutors. In light of these developments and the strong defense posture, the decision was made not to proceed with a court-martial against the Chief Petty Officer, resulting in no charges being preferred. The allegations were instead handled administratively. This resolution not only averted a potentially career-ending trial but also demonstrated the effectiveness of proactive and strategic legal advocacy in complex military legal scenarios involving foreign jurisdictions.

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