Costs of A Court Martial Conviction
What Could a Court Martial Conviction Cost You? It May Be More Than You Think
No two service members will face the same cost of a court-martial conviction. Every crime, every verdict, and every outcome is different. And it is entirely up to you to decide which is costlier: an experienced attorney, or a guilty verdict.
While we cannot make that determination for you, what we can do is share information into the average cost of a conviction. We’ve determined this after decades of being in the business, having defended thousands of clients, taken hundreds of cases to court, and reviewed additional thousands of cases by judge advocates and other civilian court-martial attorneys in the industry.
What is revealed is a grim collage of promising futures destroyed, reputations slandered and families split asunder.
How we determine the average cost of conviction:
- The vast majority of our clients have spent 5 to 10 years in the military. They enjoy enlisted ranks between E-4 and E-7 and had intended to stay in the military for another 5-10 years.
- The average plea deal for a conviction is a bad-conduct or dishonorable discharge from the military and between 10 to 20 months in prison.
- About half of our clients could face felony charges, sex offender registration, or some other punishment which will impact their civilian lives.
You now understand the calculus that went into determining the average cost of a conviction. Now, let’s see how much the average service member stands to lose.
Tangibles and Intangibles: Learn the Full Cost of Your Conviction
When you’re convicted of a criminal offense in the military, you have to account for both tangible and intangible losses.
Tangible losses are the physical assets you’ll lose over the course of your life from a conviction.
Intangible losses cannot be measured. But they hold immense value—perhaps even more than tangible assets.
- Loss of all military benefits: The average service member could lose a pension package of $1,000,000+ paid out over his or her lifetime. He or she will also miss out on medical insurance for the entire family, which could easily pay out between $500,000 and $2,000,000 over 10, 20 or 30+ years.
- Loss of income while incarcerated: Average time spent in prison is about 1-1.5 years, and could be much, much longer. But even with an average prison sentence, you could be leaving behind $60,000 to $100,000 in salaried pay from the military or at a civilian job.
- Forced return of all bonuses and property to the government: If you received an enlistment bonus, you will be forced to repay it. This could be anywhere from $8,000 to $80,000. If your case involves any fraudulent activity against the government, you will be expected to pay this money back in full, possibly to the tune of $20,000+ to $50,000+
- Your connections to family and friends: Who you are to your family and friends before your conviction is not who you will be afterward. A conviction changes how people perceive you. It will change whether or not they ever trust you again. It will change whether or not they decide to remain close to you in the years to come.
- Your personal freedoms: We take our freedoms for granted. Going out for beers on a Friday night. Playing catch with your son in the backyard. Being with family on Christmas day. We cannot place a value on memories with people we love. We cannot place a value on the time lost wasting away in prison.
- Your emotional health and dignity: A conviction will change you. Time in prison will change you. Your emotional health could suffer in ways you do not yet understand. And that can affect every aspect of your life, both personal and occupational.
- Loss of many constitutional rights: If you are convicted of a felony charge, many of your rights as a citizen of the United States will cease to exist. You will never be able to legally own a firearm again. You will lose your right to vote in elections. You will receive no government benefits, yet you will be forced to pay the same taxes.
From what we can determine, the total average cost of a conviction is:
- Tangible Assets: $2,500,000+
- Intangible Assets: Impossible to determine.
The Cost of a Military Defense Attorney Is Cheap in Comparison
Most service members never truly believe they could be convicted until it is too late. They may convince themselves that hiring an experienced attorney offers them no guarantee they’ll be exonerated. And in that, they’d be right. But it does dramatically improve your odds. And because conviction rates in a military court-martial are as high as 90%, the more you can bring those odds in your favor, the better.
Bilecki & Tipon has been defending service members of all branches of the military for decades. Altogether, our attorneys have defended thousands of clients and overseen hundreds of successful courts-martial cases. Our past clients did two things that the majority of service members never do. They compared the cost of an experienced attorney vs the cost of a conviction, and they weighed the odds of success of hiring a truly stellar law firm, and hiring an average law firm or worse, representing themselves in court.
Never assume an experienced law firm is out of your reach. Instead, contact Bilecki & Tipon LLLC and learn the truth of what a conviction will cost you…and how you can start fighting back TODAY.
FAQ: The Costs of a Court-Martial Conviction
How Can I Ever Find the Money to Pay for a Good Lawyer?
Our clients have gone to incredible lengths to secure our services. They have reached deep into their savings, sold off prized possessions such as boats and cars, picked up a second or even a third job, taken out loans, and went to close friends and family for assistance.
Why would anyone do this you ask? Because they took an honest look at what their life would be like if they were convicted, and compared it to what their life would be like if they were not.
When these men and women compared the two together and measured the full cost of a conviction, they immediately set out to hire the most experienced law firm they could find to secure the best possible outcome for their case.
Because they understood something that 90% of other service members do not: a conviction costs more in the long run than an experienced defense attorney.
Are My Odds Really That Much Better with an Experienced Defense Attorney?
Absolutely. You already know that less than 90% of service members will hire an experienced attorney in the event they are accused of a crime. You also know that roughly the same amount of service members will be convicted in their court-martial. 9 times out of 10, a service member a) doesn’t hire an experienced attorney, and b) is convicted of their crimes.
But if you review Bilecki & Tipon's case history, you’ll notice that far fewer than 90% of our clients are convicted of their crimes. In fact, it isn’t even close to 90%. And you can verify this. Right now. Just head over to our case history page and see for yourself what an experienced defense attorney can do for you in court.