COURT MARTIAL DEFENSE
How To Take The Fight To The Military Justice System And Win
The military justice system is designed to obtain convictions for the sake of “good order and discipline.” It is not a system designed to discover truth. Overzealous prosecutors and investigators do not get command recognition for admitting when they were wrong, when they wasted thousands of dollars and hundreds of man-hours trying to validate a bogus theory or a false accusation. Even if you are so much as under investigation right now, the sum of the military justice system, with every asset at its disposal, exists for the purpose of convicting you. It sucks. It’s not right and it most certainly is not justice.
What You Are Up Against In a Military Court Martial
The first step in the process of a military court martial is what is known as the preferral of charges. This is the functional equivalent of an indictment in the military, but here is an important factor to consider. By the time your charges are preferred, the military justice system has spent anywhere from three months to over a year building a case against you. That’s not to say that the case they built against you is solid; rather, that they are heavily invested in your conviction. They don’t admit wrongdoing willingly.
Prior to this stage, you are not afforded a free military attorney. However, it is important to note that you can bring in your own civilian attorney right from the moment you know you are being investigated. You should retain a court martial lawyer when being investigated because the military is going to have a year plus head start on proving your guilt otherwise. Oftentimes, we can stop you from ever being charged if we get involved early enough.
Where To Stand and Where To Fight
Come To The Preferral Ready To Fight
Remember, it’s only after the preferral that they’ll give you access to a free JAG defense attorney. That’s a military lawyer who likely didn’t know your name and may not have seen the charge sheet yet. Meanwhile, we may have spent the past year with you getting ready for this very day. The JAG defense is a rookie and we’re the seasoned vet.
Take the Fight To the Article 32
We’re going to spend a little time on this one, because it’s far too often another missed opportunity. As we mentioned earlier, many defense attorneys will just waive the Article 32 because they assume it’s a foregone conclusion that the case will proceed. Some attorneys will tell you that they don’t want the preliminary hearing officer to recommend additional charges, but that’s a bogus excuse. It can happen, but it is rare because the military justice system already had plans to charge you with everything they had to begin with. You risk so little but give up so much when waiving Article 32.
Now, as the Bilecki Law Group, we like to get aggressive at the Article 32. We want this to be a clear indication that the military justice system has a fight on their hands. We’ll often call witnesses and go after low hanging fruit, i.e. the bogus or tack on charges. When they know they have a weak case, and we make it clear at the Article 32 that we intend to fight them every step of the way, they will sometimes just fold. That’s right, the preliminary hearing officer will not recommend the trial to go forward, all because you made it clear that you are not an easy target. They’ll move on to make an example out of the next guy.
Next, we have an opportunity to put forward what is called RCM 405k matters. Here, we can put anything we want in writing and it has to be sent to the CG. He is required to be briefed on it. If the case is a complete pile of garbage, we can tell him why and be as explicit as we want to be. Remember, up until this point, it has been the military justice system that has briefed the command, and they often portray a very slanted picture of the case.
Sex assault case or not, often the accuser is right up in the mix of the trouble. Maybe you got caught because someone in supply ratted you out for taking some gear. Meanwhile, you know that S.O.B is running his own black market out the back door. This is your chance to say, “look, I’m putting all this in front of the CG,” because the accuser and the prosecution get a copy of the RCM 405k matters as well. Often enough, the accuser opts to get out of Dodge because the truth is going to come out. It’s telling the accuser something he or she was not told by the prosecution, i.e., “your reputation is on the line here too, and you’re living in a glass house.”
Set The Schedule At The Arraignment
The military justice system wants to gain a tactical advantage by giving you as little time as possible to prepare. You likely already know this by now, because, though the military spent a year plus investigating you, they preferred your charges on Monday and asked for an Article 32 hearing on Friday. You can sense they fear time…because time can often reveal truth. Here, we’ll officially enter your plea and now, we get a say in the timing and pace of the trial. We deny the prosecution the tactical advantage of going to trial as quickly as possible.
Litigate Motions to Gain A Tactical Advantage
In this stage, experience matters. We can’t emphasize this enough. Let’s take calling witnesses and experts as an example. For the prosecution, they have an unlimited budget to bring in expert testimony and can call whoever they want as witnesses. As for the defense, we have to go like poor orphan Oliver asking for more porridge and beg someone for the ability to call a witness or bring in an expert. Guess who we have to ask? We have to ask the very people trying to prosecute you if we can bring in a witness that might help us defeat them. It is perhaps one of the biggest shams in the military justice system and further proof that the system is rigged against you. The prosecution often times denies every single witness we ask for as a matter of course. Then we must file a motion to the military judge to compel production of those witnesses.
An Aggressive Offense Is The Best Defense At Trial
Consider that your average jury in a court martial will consist of 8 individuals, at least 1/3rd of whom you can request to be enlisted if you are also enlisted. However, unlike every other judicial system in the country, they don’t need a unanimous verdict to find you guilty of a crime. If six jurors find you guilty and then 2 say you are innocent, you are guilty. It’s extraordinary, that you can have two people on your jury who vote not guilty, and you will still be found guilty. They don’t need a unanimous verdict to ruin your life. That’s why we fight like hell and take no prisoners. Just look at our court martial case record, you can see that these cases can be won.
Fighting Until the Bitter End Of Sentencing
However, you have to know that the military justice system likes to find victory, even in defeat. So you could be declared not guilty of rape, but they’ll come after you and find you guilty of a curfew violation. The sentencing hearing happens right after the trial, so we have to be prepared for this beforehand. We’ll have character witnesses to call and highlight the sum of your military service. Listen, if you dragged two buddies out of an insurgent infested building on the streets of Fallujah, we’re going to make sure the world knows that before they sentence you for some tack on charge. There is a strategy to winning at sentencing too.
We’re Not Here to Coexist. We’re Here To Win.
We embody the saying, “be careful what you wish for…” Bilecki Law Group also has its own saying: “We apologize for what happens next.” The only way to fully grasp the meaning of our saying is by sitting next to us in a courtroom as the prosecution watches our game plan unfold in front of them at trial…after they’ve rested their case against you, after they’ve staked their names on convicting you, and it’s too late.
In a sense, where the various cogs in the military justice system have staked their reputations on convicting you, our reputation is staked to yours. We have a reputation too. We’ve made a name off the military justice system, winning the “un-winnable cases.” So make no mistake about it, if it is the fiery forge of combat in trial that the military justice system wants, we’re going to make them regret the day they came looking for you. If you are up against the military justice system industrial complex and you have a little fight in you, reach out to us and we’ll fight with you. And we will fight to win!