If you are pending court-martial charges, Marine, make no mistake. You are now in a battle on a different front. You are facing the possibility of length of confinement, punitive discharge, loss of pay, and loss of paygrade (if you are enlisted). You could lose the very rights and privileges you have defended as a Marine. A bad outcome at a court-martial can end your career - if you let it.
Thankfully, you are entitled to an attorney to help you defend yourself against the charges brought against you. And while you have the right to an appointed attorney provided by the Marine Corps, you are entitled to hire an experienced civilian defense attorney to advocate for you. Unlike an appointed attorney, your civilian counsel will have the time and resources to focus on you and the outcome of your case. To learn how a civilian defense attorney can help protect your rights, contact attorney Patrick J. McLain today.
Your Rights During Court-Martial
You have rights guaranteed to you by both the United States Constitution and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. If you are accused of a crime and face trial by court-martial, you will have the same protections afforded to civilian defendants in criminal trials. However, you have additional rights that do not exist in the civilian criminal justice system.
Like civilian trials, you have certain rights under the Constitution:
- The right to avoid self-incrimination
- The right to face your accuser
- The right to call witnesses
- Presumption of your innocence
- Protection against unlawful search and seizure
- Right to a fair and speedy trial, and
- Protection against double jeopardy.
But you also have rights to receiving the evidence against you (discovery), funding for witnesses and experts to testify for you (production), and preventing some statements by you from being offered as evidence (Article 31b UCMJ), that go above and beyond those guaranteed in the civilian justice system. Further, civilians who are defendants in a criminal case are only entitled to an appointed attorney if they cannot afford to hire one on their own. In court-martial proceedings, you are entitled to an appointed active duty attorney regardless of your financial status. This attorney then works with your hired civilian defense counsel to allow you to have a team working for you. Your choice of a military defense attorney is critical and can be a major factor on how your case turns out, conviction or acquittal.
Courts-Martial and the Direct Consequences of a Conviction
If you are convicted during your court-martial, there are nine specific types of punishments authorized by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. These penalties include:
- Hard labor without confinement
- Reduction in Grade
- Punitive Discharge
The court has great discretion on your sentence, and if you are convicted, you have the right, after that conviction, to present evidence before a sentence is announced. You should hire a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who knows how to put on an effective sentencing case. To better understand the potential consequences you may face, discuss your case with Attorney Patrick J. McLain today.
When do these penalties become effective?
Punishment from a court-martial will become effective depending on the type of punishment you receive. For example, if you are sentenced to confinement, you normally go to the brig immediately. On the other hand, forfeited pay and the loss of rank will take effect after fourteen days, unless you seek deferral for the sake of your family. Punitive discharges are never final until the appeal process is complete, and only if your conviction and sentence to a discharge remain unchanged.
The Collateral Consequences of a USMC Court-Martial Conviction
There are also collateral consequences to a court-martial conviction. In most cases, a court-martial conviction will be treated as a criminal conviction by civilian authorities, and that conviction goes on your permanent record. If the state you call home considers your court-martial charge a felony conviction under state law, you could lose a number of rights and privileges. Every state treats courts-martial differently, and it is important to discuss your options with an attorney to better understand your rights.
Effect on Housing and Employment
If you are convicted of a crime that your state recognized as a felony, you can face the same difficulties in everyday life that a convicted felon would.
The result of your background check could prevent you from good employment, whether with the government or in the private sector, and hamper your ability to find decent housing. A court-martial conviction can affect everything from your credit rating to your ability to hold a security clearance to your ability to obtain a license in many professions. It is important to run through all these issues with your attorney.
Forced Bonus and Education Funding Recoupment
One collateral consequence unique to military life is the possibility of having to repay certain bonuses and payments for your education upon your conviction. For many, receiving a bonus for enlisting, re-enlisting, or extending as an officer was a huge incentive, and already spent! If you are found guilty at a court-martial, you will probably be required to pay back the bonuses and education expenses you have received from the Marine Corps. In some cases, this could result in you owing the Marine Corps hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Loss of Rights
If the state that you live in considers the crime you are convicted of a felony, you will face the loss of certain constitutional rights in the private sector. The first is that you will lose your right to vote. You could also lose your right to possess a firearm. While there is a process for petitioning to have these rights restored, there is no guarantee that you will ever get these rights back if you lose them.
Where We Work
- MCAS Yuma
- 29 Palms Marine Base
- Camp Pendleton
- Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center
- MCAS Miramar
- MCLB Barstow
- MCRD San Diego
- Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany
- Marine Corps Base Hawaii
- Camp Lejeune
- MCAS Cherry Point
- MCAS New River
- MCAS Beaufort
- MCRD Parris Island
- Camp Allen
- Myer - Henderson Hall
- MCB Quantico
- Robertson Barracks
- CATC Camp Fuji
- MCAS Futenma
- MCAS Iwakuni
- MCB Camp Courtney
- MCB Camp Foster
- MCB Camp Hansen
- MCB Camp Kinser
- MCB Camp Lester
- MCB Camp Schwab
The Value of Having an Experienced Civilian Defense Counsel on your Side
While you should exercise your right to have an active duty attorney appointed in your case, you will always benefit from having a good, experienced civilian military law attorney on your team. When you are facing a court-martial in the USMC, there is no better advocate than Attorney Patrick J McLain.
Patrick J. McLain is not just a civilian defense attorney. Patrick is a former military judge, and he has over thirty years of military justice experience. He has fought for clients all over the country and the world. Thanks to his years of experience, he is uniquely situated to understand how the charges you are currently facing affect your life, your career, and your freedom - and how to win.
To learn more about having someone fight for you when the government has gone after you, contact Attorney Patrick J. McLain today.