Built in 1942 in the huge expansion of military bases in the United States during World War II, Fort Hood is one of the biggest military bases in the world, and as such, houses numerous large military organizations, and thus has a very active legal practice. Fort Hood is currently home to III Corps, First Army Division West, the 1st Cavalry Division, and a host of brigades and other commands in support. Named for Confederate General John Bell Hood, with the central part of the post located in Bell County, Texas, Fort Hood has seen its share of rebellion; from anti-war activity over the past fifty years to murderous attacks by an enemy sympathizer in 2009 and a mentally disturbed combat veteran in 2014, Fort Hood is anything but a placid post in the central Texas plain.
Fort Hood is also home to many Judge Advocate General's Corp (JAG) attorneys. These hard-working women and men have a wide range of responsibilities; from environmental law, to labor law, to claims, to prosecution of offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), to defending Soldiers accused of those offenses; the latter attorneys are part of the Trial Defense Service. Due to the large caseload they carry, a JAG attorney's time is limited, and she or he is not always able to give much advice and counsel outside of the courts-martial and boards that are the mainstay of their work. That's why, in addition to the greater range of experience, Soldiers seek a private civilian attorney to achieve the best chance of a favorable outcome in such cases.
If you are facing a military disciplinary proceeding at Fort Hood, let attorney Patrick J. McLain represent you. He is primarily focused on representing service members facing criminal charges for UCMJ violations, as well as other administrative proceedings such as administrative separation boards, show cause hearings, physical evaluation boards, security clearance matters, etc.
Military Proceedings at Fort Hood, Texas
Administrative actions include NJP (nonjudicial punishment) or Article 15 hearings, which commanders hold when they are dealing with what they believe are lesser offenses that do not warrant a court-martial. A Soldier should have thorough counseling with a TDS JAG or a private civilian attorney; not a non-lawyer, or a Brigade SJA, or anyone else, before making the critical decision to either accept nonjudicial punishment or to fight the charges by demanding the right to trial by court-martial. These charges can lead to separation proceedings, administrative separation proceedings for enlisted personnel and show cause hearings for officers. Every decision made in matters involving the UCMJ have longtime career and life consequences, and these decisions ought to be made with only the best and most experienced counsel.
Regardless of whether you face an NJP or court-martial, you will have the opportunity to appeal any conviction against you. A civilian attorney can also represent you on the appellate level at the Army Court of Criminal Appeals or the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
Common Military Offenses at Fort Hood
The charges you could face in a court-martial are often similar to criminal charges raised in civilian courts. But many of the charges that could potentially lead to NJP are unique to military life and would not otherwise be a crime in the civilian world.
Common military offenses can include:
- AWOL or unauthorized absence
- Drunk for duty
- Sleeping on watch
- False official statement
- Disobeying or disrespecting NCOs and officers
- Damaging or destroying government property
Common court-martial offenses can include:
Potential Disciplinary Penalties at Fort Hood
The potential penalties for both nonjudicial punishment and a court-martial are serious. And while NJP is considered minor, the penalties can still significantly alter an otherwise flawless military career. Some of the potential consequences for NJP include:
- loss of pay
- extra duties
- loss of rank
In many cases, especially when there is evidence of a positive urinalysis of drug use, a guilty finding could lead to administrative separation or show cause proceedings.
Penalties following conviction by court-martial can include the consequences listed above, but also the more serious penalties such as confinement, punitive discharge, and more.
The repercussions of a conviction and subsequent penalties can have a devastating impact on not only a service member but also his or her family. A loss or reduction in income, the loss of base housing privileges, and other military benefits can greatly affect the stability of a family. When deciding whether to accept nonjudicial punishment and demand trial by court-martial, a servicemember must consider the loss of benefits, retirement that may result from not fighting. With so much at stake, it's critical to hire an attorney that gives you the best shot at a positive outcome.
Skilled Criminal Defense for Service Members
When your freedom and career are at stake, you will benefit from the experience and skill of a civilian military defense attorney to give you the best chance at saving what is most important. If you need representation for a disciplinary proceeding at Fort Hood, attorney Patrick J. McLain, a former military judge, and experienced court-martial defense attorney, can help. Contact Patrick J. McLain today.