Fighting Back Against Abuse And Misuse Of The UCMJ At Naval Air Station North Island
Look, if the Navy during wartime can show a little understanding to the Sailors that accidentally fired a torpedo at President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, they can offer you some as well. In 1943, President Roosevelt was aboard the USS Iowa en route to North Africa for a clandestine meeting with Churchill and Stalin. Part of that escort group included the USS William D. Porter, or the “Willie Dee” as it was affectionately known.
The voyage got off to an ominous start when the Wille Dee forgot to raise anchor while exiting the docks at Norfolk. It ripped off the railing of a sister ship sending small boats and equipment into the sea. There’s one UCMJ charge for you right there. Then, while maintaining radio silence in the dark, the Willie Dee had an improperly secured depth charge that fell into the ocean during rough seas and exploded. This sent the entire fleet into immediate evasive maneuvers. Let’s add another UCMJ charge here.
Finally, Roosevelt wanted to see what the fleet looked like in action if they were ever attacked. Weather balloons were sent into the air for target practice. That’s when the Willie Dee decided to run a few drills themselves. They set their sights on the USS Iowa for torpedo drill practice while President Roosevelt was on the deck. Unfortunately, a crew member of the Willie Dee failed to remove the priming pin on one torpedo during the drill. The crew was horrified when they heard the unmistakable sound of a torpedo in the water heading directly for the USS Iowa.
Since they were still under radio silence the signal crew attempted to warn the USS Iowa but the young Sailor was so flustered, he essentially sent over bizarre and incoherent phrases. That’s when the Captain of the Willie Dee broke radio silence and told the USS to make a hard turn as the torpedo was heading right for them. Thankfully they got the message in time and the USS Iowa made such a hard turn that FDR’s wheelchair had to be stabilized to avoid sending him rolling over the side of the ship. As crazy as that sounds, something tells us that FDR would have been a poor swimmer.
Once out of harm’s way, the USS Iowa turned their guns on the Willie Dee until the confusion could be clarified. The Willie Dee was then summarily ordered out of the fleet and the clandestine mission. When the Willie Dee arrived in Bermuda, U.S. Marines were there waiting for the crew. The young sailor who failed to remove the priming pin was given hard labor, which was eventually reduced by FDR when he got word. Word of the epic screw up spread through the Navy and it was common for the Willie Dee to be greeted by other ships with the phrase, “Don’t shoot, I’m a Republican.”
A Mistake With The UCMJ Shouldn’t End Your Career
Look, you might have screwed up and you might find yourself in trouble with the UCMJ. However, you didn’t almost sink a Battleship and kill the Commander-in-Chief. A simple mistake shouldn’t end your career, take your freedom, or steal your retirement out from under you at the last minute. Mistakes are common in the military and unfortunately, so is abuse and misuse of the UCMJ. At Bilecki Law Group, we fight like hell for our clients because we know and believe that they are more than the sum of the charges against them. That’s why we’re willing to take on the toughest cases that other court martial defense attorney’s run from. We’re not afraid of a fight and below, you see just some of the charges we fight, defend, and win.
- UCMJ Article 120 or Article 134 (Sex offenses .
These cases can include rape, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, abusive sexual contact, sexual assault of a minor, indecent viewing, indecent recording, forcible pandering, indecent exposure, and other Article 120 and Article 120(c) offenses. As the military is trying to root out the problem of sexual misconduct within the ranks, they are doing so with a broad ax when justice often requires a scalpel.
The current climate is such that an allegation is being treated as objective fact and even though guilt cannot be proven, it’s enough to end a career. If you find yourself under investigation for sexual misconduct and you know you are innocent, you better get ready to fight. They are going to come at you with everything they have and they have zero interest in discovering any evidence that will prove you innocent. We know how to fight these cases and most importantly, we know how to win them.
- UCMJ Article 121 (Fraud and Larceny) .
We defend cases such as conspiracy to defraud the military, BAH fraud, OHA fraud, extortion, larceny, wrongful appropriation, and more. The simple truth is that when gear goes missing in the military, someone is going to pay a price that doesn’t always fall on the responsible shoulders.
The quartermaster could be running a full-fledged ponzi scheme with gear, but it’s going to be the young sailor left with a court martial. Meanwhile, BAH fraud is one of the more common charges we see and it often involves a young sailor who made a mistake while just trying to provide for his family. You can fight these charges and it doesn’t have to be the end of your career.
UCMJ Article 128 (Assault and Violent Crime) .
We represent service members facing charges including murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, assault, and cases involving self-defense and defense of another. The truth is that Sailors are going to drink and Sailors are going to get into fights. This harkens back to the finest of Naval traditions, but the modern military justice system wants to act like they’ve never seen a sailor’s fight before.
As such, when it comes to a simple fight that could even involve you just protecting your buddies or your family, your career could be over with the first punch. When a makeshift weapon like a beer bottle or chair gets involved, the charges can get serious in a hurry.
- UCMJ Article 112a (Drug Crimes) .
We defend cases involving drug possession, drug distribution, drug importation, drug manufacturing, drug trafficking, positive urinalysis cases, tampering with urinalysis cases, and more. These cases often involve illegal controlled substances such as marijuana, LSD, methamphetamines, cocaine, ecstasy, molly, opioids, analogues, and more.
You could perhaps fill every cargo bay in the entire Navy with the amount of drugs that flows in and out of the border with Tijuana. Far too many good men and women in uniform are getting caught up on serious drug charges because some civilian influence likes to prey on those in uniform. They trick them into getting involved and when busted, they high tail it back across the border leaving the service member high and dry. It’s not right, but you can fight and you can win these cases.
- Punitive Articles of the UCMJ 77-134 (Military Specific Offenses) .
These include charges such as fraternization, unauthorized absence (AWOL), disobeying a lawful order, conduct unbecoming an officer, and much more. Not only do mistakes happen in the military, but we’d go so far as to say every service member has violated the UCMJ at some point in their career.
That’s because the UCMJ covers nearly every aspect of human behavior, and it is almost impossible to comply at all times. The punitive articles are where we see some of the sillier charges and many are worth fighting just out of principle. What is perfectly acceptable in one command will end your career under another command.
How To Fight And Take Back Your Career From the UCMJ
If you are under investigation or facing court martial, you are about to enter into the fight of your life. That’s because the military justice system doesn’t exist for the pursuit of justice and your innocence may not matter if you don’t fight. The military justice system exists to preserve military discipline and order. For this to work, they have to make an “example” out of someone and if you don’t fight, they will make that example out of you, your innocence be damned.
When we take on a case, we’ll take the fight right to the heart of the military justice system and give them the fight they were hoping to avoid. They want you to just admit guilt and lull you into complacency that you won’t get the max punishment. Then, when they realize you won’t put up a fight, they drop the hammer on you. You must fight back and make yourself a harder target than the next guy. Let them make an example out of someone else and not out of your mistake.
It should be noted that even the Wille Dee went on to serve honorably. The ship saw action in the Pacific until a kamikaze attack sank the ship off the coast of Okinawa in 1945. Sure, they almost assassinated the CIC, but that didn’t stop the crew from risking and giving all. Your career shouldn’t be over because you made a mistake. You shouldn’t lose your retirement at the 11th hour and you don’t belong in military prison. If you are facing court martial you need to stand up and fight. Reach out to us and we’ll give you a free consultation. We’ll always shoot you straight on what you are facing and as long as you are willing to fight like hell, so are we.
FAQ'S About California Military Legal Defense
Drug crimes, mainly possession, use, and distribution, have long been a problem in California, especially with the confusion of its legalization in the state. Sexual assault charges remain incredibly high, as do assault charges and fraud against the government.
Bilecki Law Group are court martial lawyers who have defended service members against all offenses under the UCMJ in California. If you’ve been accused of any crime under the UCMJ, contact our law offices immediately for a confidential consultation.
We travel to California every year to represent our military clients. We can also send support staff such as investigators and forensic specialists should the need arise. We often travel to Fort Irwin, Twentynine Palms, Travis Air Force Base, Edwards Air Force Base, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, MCRD, San Diego and others.