Edwards Air Force Base, located in Kern County, California, has been used continuously since 1933. Formerly known as Muroc Air Force Base, Edwards AFB is home to the 412th Test Wing.
If you are facing a military discipline proceeding at Edwards AFB, you have the right to a civilian defense attorney of your choice.
Types of Military Justice at Edwards AFB
There are two main types of legal proceedings you may face under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ): nonjudicial punishment and courts-martial.
Also known as Article 15, nonjudicial punishment is a type of administrative action that is a common disciplinary procedure in the Air Force. An NJP is not a formal criminal proceeding, but it still carries serious consequences.
An NJP is initiated by your commanding officer; however, you have the right to reject the NJP and demand a formal court-martial hearing in its place. While a court-martial carries stiffer penalties, it also provides a formal setting with strict rules of evidence that are not available at an NJP hearing. The decision to reject an NJP should not be taken lightly, and you should always consult with an attorney before making a decision.
If you receive an unfavorable result in your NJP, you have the right to appeal the result up the chain of command. The potential grounds for appeal are twofold: (1) the outcome was unjust, or (2) the sentence was disproportionate to the offense.
A court-martial is a formal criminal proceeding under the UCMJ. If you are found guilty, your criminal record will reflect a conviction. While a court-martial is typically reserved for the most serious offenses, charges may be brought against you for any violation of the UCMJ. Despite the greater risk, a court-martial is often a better option for an Airman, NCO, or officer faced with charges of misconduct to the greater rights available, including the right to counsel, available at trial by court-martial.
If you are convicted at your court-martial, you have the right to an appeal. There are two appellate-level courts that hear appeals from the Air Force:
- The Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals
- The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
You are entitled to hire a civilian criminal defense attorney at every stage of a court-martial, from your initial charge all the way through your appeal.
Common Offenses at Edwards AFB
Below are some of the most common offenses that are heard at either a NJP or a court-martial.:
Common NJP Offenses
- Unauthorized absence (AWOL)
- Drunk on duty
- Violation of orders
- Destroying government property
Common Court-Martial Offenses
While the penalties for an NJP are typically lighter than those assessed at a court-martial, the reality is that a conviction in either proceeding could have profound consequences for you. In either case, you could face separation proceedings and find yourself involuntarily separated from the Air Force.
Other common penalties include:
- Loss of pay,
- Extra duties, and
- Loss of rank.
Additionally, a court-martial may also lead to serious consequences like incarceration or a punitive discharge.
You Have a Right to a Civilian Attorney
When facing military disciplinary proceedings at Edwards AFB, you have the right to a civilian defense attorney. To discuss your case with a former Marine Corps military judge, contact attorney Patrick McLain.