North Carolina Military Lawyer | Fort Liberty – Camp LeJeune – Military Defense Attorney

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Military service members who are facing criminal charges or are under investigation deserve to have the assistance of a dedicated and experienced North Carolina military lawyer. Facing any kind of criminal allegations as a member of the military can have severe consequences on your career, personal life, and reputation. An experienced lawyer who practices military criminal defense can offer you invaluable guidance and protect your rights.

Located within driving distance of Fort Liberty and Camp LeJeune, the W. James Payne Law Firm legal team has 30+ years of experience representing members of the military. We have a deep understanding of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and a strong commitment to advocating for all service members. James Payne has the knowledge and skills to defend service members who stand accused of any criminal act. Our law firm is prepared to defend those who serve our country.

Why You Should Hire a Military Defense Lawyer

If you are facing administrative actions or criminal charges as a member of the military, it is crucial that you hire your own defense lawyer as soon as you can. No matter how simple the charges may seem, it will benefit you to have someone who can evaluate your case and give you helpful advice. There are several reasons why you should seek assistance from a trustworthy military defense lawyer:

  1. Military defense lawyers understand the UCMJ and all aspects of military law. They are far more familiar with military law than a typical lawyer who does not have the same experience. Therefore, a military lawyer can better navigate the intricacies of such a legal system.
  2. An experienced military defense lawyer will be able to make sure your rights are protected during every step of the legal process, from the start of the investigation to possible court-martial proceedings. Your lawyer can fight for due process on your behalf and ensure your rights are not violated.
  3. You can count on your military defense lawyer to prepare a strong defense strategy that is specifically tailored to your case. The circumstances, evidence, and any witnesses involved will all be taken into account. Your lawyer can explore all options to make sure the right decision is made for you.
  4. With a military defense lawyer like James Payne, you can have someone with excellent negotiation skills in your corner. Negotiations can be done with the prosecution and your command to potentially reduce the charges against you, mitigate the penalties, or determine some other way to resolve the issue.
  5. By hiring a lawyer, you could potentially reduce the risk of consequences to your career. A military defense lawyer can work tirelessly to ensure your military career is not severely affected by the charges against you. They can help to protect your pay, rank, and potential future prospects within the military.
  6. A military defense lawyer can be a great source of emotional and legal support during such a difficult time. The stress of facing criminal charges can be immensely difficult for a service member and their family to handle.

There are many benefits of having a military defense lawyer represent you when you are facing criminal charges as a service member. Do not hesitate to seek counsel from the W. James Payne Law Firm to improve your chances of seeing a favorable case outcome.

The Three Types of Courts-Martial

In the United States, members of the military who violate the UCMJ can be tried by court-martial for their offenses. Typically, it is left at the discretion of the servicemember’s direct commander to decide if this form of disciplinary action should be taken based on the severity of the offense and the servicemember’s rank. Offenses that might warrant a court-martial include:

  • Military offenses: desertion, mutiny, insubordination
  • General criminal offenses: murder, rape, assault, theft, drug offenses
  • Criminal offenses related to the military, such as assault of a superior officer
  • War crimes

The US military judicial system has three levels of courts-martial that a military commander can choose to resolve offenses: summary, special, and general. Each level deals with different offenses and imposes varying degrees of punishment.

Summary Court-Martial

This level of courts-martial is the lowest. It is usually presided over by an officer with a rank of captain or higher who has been appointed by the service member’s command. Summary court-martial is intended to handle minor offenses committed by enlisted service members. The penalties for such offenses are less severe at this level when compared to the other two courts-martial. Penalties may include reduction in rank, hard labor, restriction, confinement, or forfeiture of pay.

The service member who is standing accused of the offense does not have a right to a jury trial or military defense counsel at the trial, but they may still hire a civilian defense lawyer at their discretion. It is highly advisable to seek legal counsel, no matter how small the offense. Although the penalties may be light, a lawyer can make sure you receive proper legal guidance and that the proceedings are fairly conducted.

Special Court-Martial

Mid-level offense cases are heard at this intermediate military court level. Presiding over these cases may be a military judge alone or a judge in addition to a panel of at least three service members, who act as the jury. An enlisted service member who stands accused has the right to request to be tried by only the judge. These trials include a prosecutor, or trial counsel, and give the accused service member the right to defense counsel.

The service member may choose to have military defense counsel or civilian defense counsel. A special court-martial can include penalties such as hard labor, a reduction in rank, loss of allowances and pay, confinement, and punitive discharge or dismissal.

General Court-Martial

Typically, before charges are sent to a general court-martial, an investigating officer must conduct an Article 32 investigation to determine if there is probable cause. That officer then makes a recommendation for how the case should be handled based on what is found, but the convening authority makes the final decision.

General court-martial is the highest level of trial court in the military justice system. It handles some of the more severe criminal offenses, including capital offenses. This court may consist of a prosecutor, defense counsel for the accused party, a military judge, and at least five members of the court acting as the jury. An enlisted accused party can request that some court members also be enlisted members. They may also ask to have a trial with a judge alone for any case except capital cases.

Punishments for offenses that are brought to a general court-martial include confinement, a reduction in rank, hard labor, loss of allowances and pay, a dishonorable discharge, and, in some cases, the death penalty.

Nonjudicial Punishment Proceedings

Nonjudicial proceedings in the US military are also known as Article 15 proceedings. They are an alternative to court-martial proceedings for addressing service members’ minor offenses and are typically conducted by the unit commander. Governed by Article 15 of the UCMJ, these proceedings offer a more convenient and less severe way to resolve some disciplinary problems.

Penalties of a nonjudicial proceeding can include loss of pay, additional duties, and a reduction in rank. The specific offense, as well as the rank of the accused servicemember, both play a role in the decision for a maximum punishment.

An accused servicemember may either choose to accept the Article 15 or request a court-martial. However, it is important to know that choosing a court-martial may result in harsher penalties. Accepting a nonjudicial punishment does not mean you are admitting guilt but rather that you would prefer to have your case heard by your commander and not proceed to court-martial. You have every right to contest your alleged offenses at a nonjudicial proceeding.

Consulting with a military attorney at W. James Payne Law Firm would be beneficial to help you make decisions that are right for you and your case.

What to Expect From Your Military Defense Attorney

You can expect a high level of competence, dedication, and professionalism when you hire a military defense attorney. Your attorney will work hard to thoroughly investigate your case and the charges against you while developing a strong defense. In addition, you can expect to be kept informed about every aspect of your case, including the progress made and any potential obstacles. Your questions will be answered and your concerns addressed.

In the event that your case proceeds to court-martial, your attorney will represent you in court, advocating for your interests and defending your rights. If the court-martial proceedings do not result in your desired outcome, the option to appeal the decision is available, and your attorney can assist you in that process.

  1. James Payne: Your Fort Liberty – Camp LeJeune – Military Defense Attorney

The W. James Payne Law Firm is the legal team you want in your corner when facing criminal charges as a military service member. Whether you are in the army, navy, marines, or air force, James Payne can represent you. Contact our office today to have your case heard.