Consulting a Court Martial Attorney
Our office is regularly contacted by soldiers who have reason to believe court martial charges may soon be preferred against them. The question these soldiers always ask is, “Should I hire a court martial attorney now or wait until after charges are filed?” While each situation is unique, generally, it is best to get an experienced court martial attorney on your side as soon as possible. There are several reasons for this.
1) Pretrial Advice: A civilian attorney can help you understand the military justice process and answer your questions. When you are facing a court martial, you will typically have a lot of concerns and questions. You shouldn’t have to find the answers to these questions on your own. If you reach out to Trial Defense Services (TDS), they will typically tell you that there isn’t anything that they can do until charges are preferred. While this is true for TDS, this is not true for a civilian attorney.
2) Influencing the Investigation: An experienced court martial attorney can help influence the pretrial stages in certain cases. When you retain our services prior to any charges being preferred, we will contact the investigator from CID or MPI. Our office will also reach out to the Chief of Justice and the main prosecutor in your case. Typically, through our own pretrial investigation, we can provide the prosecutor and investigator with information that is helpful to you. For example, usually the government has only interviewed witnesses against you. In certain cases, it is beneficial to tell them the other side of the story as soon as possible in order to influence whether charges are even preferred. We can accomplish this goal by providing the government with the names of witnesses that we know are credible and whose testimony supports our side. In situations where court martial charges cannot be avoided, our help may still result in charges that are less severe than what the government was originally planning on preferring against you.
3) Preparing your Defense: An experienced court martial attorney will tell you that the best defense is a great offense. Prior to preferral of charges, the government is investigating your case and preparing for trial – why shouldn’t you be preparing too? During the pretrial stages, it is important to interview key witnesses, secure evidence that is favorable for you, and prepare your defense strategy. If you use this time wisely, there is no reason why you and your civilian attorney cannot be prepared to present a well thought out and convincing defense to the court martial charges against you.
4) Acting as a Buffer: Another benefit to retaining a civilian attorney prior to the preferral of court martial charges is that the civilian attorney can act as buffer between you and the government. It can be an extremely disruptive and embarrassing experience to have your chain of command escort you down to CID for questioning. An experienced court martial attorney will keep CID from such intrusions by making it clear that no questioning of you will occur now that you are represented by legal counsel.
While each situation is unique, it usually is best to have an experienced court martial attorney on the case before charges are preferred. If you or someone you care about is concerned that court martial charges may be preferred, contact Mr Coombs today to discuss how he may be able to help you. When it comes to a court martial is it usually better to get professional help sooner, rather than later.