MILITARY DRUG CRIMES LAWYER
At Bilecki Law Group, We believe every service member has earned their right to an aggressive defense on their day in court. We specialize in taking the fight to the prosecution and winning cases that others said were unwinnable.
What is Article 112a, UCMJ
In the United States military, wrongful use of drugs is a serious crime defined under Article 112a, Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). This statute defines not only wrongful use of drugs, but also wrongful possession with intent to distribute, wrongful introduction with intent to distribute, wrongful manufacture with intent to distribution and wrongful importation or exportation. All these offenses fall under Article 112a of the UCMJ.
While many drugs are being legalized and the civilian world has taken a relaxed stand to the use of illegal drugs, the military is altogether different. Drug prosecutions are on the rise, and the military has a zero-tolerance stance on anyone caught using, possessing, manufacturing, or distributing drugs. If you are an active duty military service member and you are accused of any drug related offense under the UCMJ, you run a high risk of having court martial charges preferred against you. At minimum you face non-judicial punishment and administrative separation.
A conviction at a court martial for drug related offenses typically involves the following punishments: Reduction to the lowest enlisted rank. Forfeiture of all pay and allowances. Confinement. A punitive discharge from the service. To avoid a conviction of a military drug offense, you must have an experienced court martial lawyer defending you.
The Military’s “War on Drugs”
The War on Drugs has made its presence known well beyond the civilian community and into the bases, barracks, and courts of the U.S. military. Unfortunately for service members, military prosecutors vigorously prosecute individuals that are even remotely suspected of purchasing, using, or selling illegal drugs, without ever considering the context of events or the service member’s previous service to their country.
To make matters worse, most members of military law enforcement could care less about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or even the rights afforded under the UCMJ. CID, NCIS, and OSI agents charged with eliminating drugs or contraband tend to search first and come up with a legal justification later. In one case that illustrates this point precisely, Bilecki was able to get one deceptive CID agent in Okinawa, Japan to admit that he fraudulently altered a consent to search form after a Soldier signed it. In that case, all charges were dismissed.
In a similar vein, recent joint Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and military Drug Suppression Team (DST) sting operations resulted in the preferral of charges against numerous active duty service members for drug manufacturing, importation, and exportation charges. These sting operations involve casting a large net that captures not only the traffickers and street level dealers, but also the innocent.
If this sounds like the military is taking drug crimes seriously, then you’d be right. There comes a point when service members charged with military drug crimes need to stand up and fight to tell their side of the story. That time for you could be right now, which is why it’s more important than ever to have a defense team on your side that understands your rights, your story, and your service to America.
Drug charges, including offenses of drug possession and distribution, can have damaging and lifelong consequences. A conviction for the possession of even a small amount of marijuana or prescription drugs can dramatically impact careers and limit opportunities. Should you be charged with a more excessive crime, the result could be years, if not decades, in prison.
Defenses to Military Drug Offenses
Not all drug use is wrongful. The lawful use of prescription drugs is an obvious example. The ingestion of a substance a person believes is MCT powder, but is actually cocaine, for example, may not be wrongful. These are just two examples seen in military court cases around the world.
In the case of the prescription, if evidence was introduced at trial raising an issue of whether your possession of a controlled substance was wrongful since the substance had been duly prescribed for the accused by a physician and the prescription had not been obtained by fraud, then you may have a defense. In determining this issue, the jury must consider all relevant facts and circumstances. The burden is upon the prosecution to establish your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Unless the jury is satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that your possession of the substance was not because of a properly obtained prescription duly prescribed by a physician, the jury may not find you guilty.
In the case of ingesting cocaine when you believed it was MCT power, a person who uses cocaine, but actually believes it to be a legal substance is not guilty of wrongful use of cocaine. Perhaps they are guilty of being an idiot, but it beats a conviction. While it is not necessary that you were aware of the exact identity of the contraband substance, the knowledge requirement is satisfied if you knew the substance was prohibited. Similarly, if you believed the substance was a contraband substance, such as cocaine, when in fact it was heroin, the law states that you had sufficient knowledge to satisfy that element of the offense. A contraband substance is one that is illegal to use.
It is also important to understand that you can’t bury your head in the sand and turn a blind eye to the substance you are using. While you must know the substance you used was of a contraband nature to be convicted, you may not willfully and intentionally remain ignorant of a fact important and material so that you escape the consequences of criminal law.
Years of Experience
Court Martial Verdicts
Service Members Represented
Real Consequences of Drug Offenses
After you’ve been accused of the possession, trafficking or use of drugs as a military service member, your career, reputation, and freedom all come under fire. As the vice tightens, you cannot tell the difference between your allies, and your enemies. The threat to your military career and civilian future is both clear and present.
- Military senior leadership is going after drug offenders hard and fast.This zero-tolerance policy could land you in jail for years without proper legal representation.
- The country you swore to protect now fights to have you incarcerated and your reputation demolished in a very public fashion.
- Your brothers and sisters in the military already believe you’re guilty. Acquaintances and even friends are watching you drown and think you’ll take them down with you.
- Your very defense attorney from the JAG office tells you to plead guilty and accept the first deal offered to you because that’s the best you’ll get.
- You may be dishonorably discharged for even the smallest of drug charges. Your GI benefits will disappear overnight. You will be stripped of your rank and your service will be forgotten.
- A dishonorable discharge is public knowledge for all to see. Your dream job may be handed to another former service member or civilian with a clean record.
Regardless of the charges brought against you, and no matter how much evidence the military says they have on you, we can help. Bilecki Law Group defends service members accused of the full spectrum of drug offenses. From relatively minor positive urinalysis charges to international drug trafficking, we have the experience, street smarts and tenacity to take on drug offenses at all levels in the military justice system.
Frequently Asked Questions About Drug Offenses
Yes. The military has a zero-tolerance approach to drug use. If the case makes it to a court martial, expect the prosecution to bring all its resources to bear against you. Much like the prior and current Administration goes after service members accused of sexual assault with a zeal we’ve never seen before, the current military leadership is looking to go after drug offenders with the same kind of determination. This will only lead to more prosecutions, more aggressive tactics by prosecutors and harsher sentencing. This will only lead to harsher sentencing and more aggressive tactics by prosecutors. This is why it’s more important than ever that you have court martial lawyers with a proven record for winning drug cases in the military.
Yes. The War on Drugs is ongoing, and command wants to be seen as aggressively tackling this problem to show they are taking a stand on preserving good order and discipline. The more service members that get prosecuted under their watch, the tougher they look to their leadership. Commands are more than okay with your very public trial and will justify the trial and punishment in name of good order and discipline. Command is more than okay with your very public hanging. They need some red meat to throw at the public now and then to confirm that they’re winning the “War on Drugs.”