I have a passion for military legal defense. I am a military legal defense attorney. In 2010, I left my job as a public defender in order to use my legal experience to benefit military clients. I was assigned to Vandenberg AFB in the legal office. While working in the legal office, I provided legal assistance to 361 military clients, more than any other attorney in the office by far. I also successfully prosecuted the most serious cases the legal office had during my tenure. I was hand picked to serve as the Area Defense Counsel (ADC) at Vandenberg AFB, and had the honor to defend military clients in bases all over the Western United States. During my two years as the ADC, I represented 420 military members facing misconduct ranging from letters of counseling to General Courts Martials. During my time in the Air Force, I was stratified as the number one attorney in the office. More importantly, I have always received great feedback from my clients because it is obvious that I truly care about their case and their future.
The military will provide you with a free attorney. However, attorneys are like any group of people, some are fantastic and some are not. Military defense attorneys are usually extremely busy, and you may not be able to get the attention your case deserves. When your career or life is on the line, you deserve personal attention. If your defense counsel is inexperienced or inattentive, there is no reason to stake your future on someone you are not 100% confident with. You will not get a do-over. If you do have defense counsel that you trust, you can absolutely hire a private attorney to work with that defense counsel in your defense. You have the right to hire an experienced private attorney while still getting the independent advice of your appointed counsel. The best thing you can do if you are facing disciplinary action is to be represented by an attorney you trust and who will work hard to defend your rights.
I have a passion for military defense AND military members, which is why I joined the Air Force. I believe in transparency for my clients, which is why I post my rates. If you would like to talk to me, you will know that you are not going to get a high pressure sales pitch. Initial consultations are always free, and I am always free to discuss how I can help you.
Initial Consultations: FREE
Report of Investigation Review: If the ROI is over 100 pages, $250
Article 15: $2,500
Discharge Board: $5,000 to $10,000
Summary Courts Martial: $5,000 to $10,000
Special Courts Martial: $5,000 to $15,000
General Courts Martial: $5,000 then $250 an hour past the retainer fee
Retainer – If you are facing a Courts Martial, the initial retainer for me to represent you is $5,000. That provides you eight billable hours of work. For a discharge board or court martial, once work on your case exceeds eight hours the fee is $250 an hour. For discharge boards, Summary Courts Martials, and Special Courts Martials, there are upper limits on what you will be charged.
Under no circumstances should you speak to law enforcement or your chain of command. If you are suspected of a crime, you have a Constitutional Right to not speak. For decades, the Courts have been enforcing this Constitutional protection, because it is that important. Making a statement can be the difference between going home or going to confinement. Remember that when your supervisor or law enforcement wants to talk to you, it is because they suspect you of a crime. They are allowed to, and absolutely will lie to your face in order to get you to admit wrongdoing. You have no idea what other people have told them, what evidence they have collected, and what faulty assumptions have been made. Conviction rates rise dramatically whenever an accused agrees to waive his or her rights to an attorney and speak. When you are called in, the first phase of the interview is the rapport building phase. This is where law enforcement attempts to joke with you and make you feel at ease. This is an intentional tactic designed to make you want to talk. They are not there to be your friend, they are seeking a confession. After rapport building, law enforcement will read you your Article 31 rights, which specifically includes your right to an attorney and the right to remain silent. However, they will tell you that it is something they have to read to you in order to protect you and to protect them. Do not get lulled in to thinking this is just some formality you both have to get through in order to tell your side of the story. This is the entire reason you are in a room with law enforcement, to find out if you will waive your Constitutional Rights. The next phase is the interview portion. The questioning will be non-confrontational and law enforcement officers will sympathize with you and attempt to keep you talking. The more you talk, the better for law enforcement. In order to be found guilty, the government has to meet every element of the crime you are accused of. Casually admitting to law enforcement that you were at the scene, or that you were aware of something ensures the government can absolutely meet an element. Giving away seemingly innocent information can have a huge impact. At some point in every interrogation, the questioning will turn confrontational. Law enforcement will begin applying pressure and calling you a liar. They want an emotional response, they want you to give inconsistent information so you look like a liar. It very well may not matter what you say. Once the machinery of prosecution is set in motion, the government seldom takes what you say into account, and your statement is likely to do more harm than good. This is not to say that you should never make a statement, but you should absolutely talk to an attorney to make a strategic decision in an environment without deception or pressure. Whenever you are asked to waive your Constitutional Rights, there is never a rush, and the smart decision is to consult with an experienced attorney before doing anything.
There are three kinds of Courts Martial in the military. The least severe forum is a summary court martial. Accepting a summary court martial forum has benefits and drawbacks. You give up your right to a jury (member panel). Instead, you are tried by an officer who will decide if you are guilty or innocent and also impose punishment. That punishment however, is capped at 30 days of confinement and you cannot receive a punitive discharge, which is the most serious punishment the military can impose short of death. A special courts martial gives you the opportunity to be tried by a member panel, but also has limits on the punishment imposed. The timeline between being accused and court is much shorter, but you can only be sentenced to up to one year of confinement and only a Bad Conduct Discharge (not a Dishonorable Discharge). While most states interpret a special court martial as the equivalent of a misdemeanor, the military makes no such distinction, and every state will have their own interpretation based upon their own laws. It is a Federal Conviction, and will affect you for the rest of your life. The most severe kind of case is a General Courts Martial. There are no limits on the punishment you can receive at a General Courts Martial. Before a GCM can convene, you are entitled to an Article 32 hearing. This is your first chance to hear the evidence the government has against you. Having a competent lawyer represent you at the Article 32 hearing is important because it is a great opportunity to shape the evidence before trial and you have the potential to convince the government you did not commit a crime. You should have a comprehensive strategy that encompasses every phase of the process. No matter what you are facing, you deserve an attorney who has the experience to fight for you. Do not accept an attorney who does not keep you informed, who does not give your case the attention it deserves, or who is so over-worked that he or she cannot give you justice. Give me a call and we can discuss what your options are and I will share what my strategic approach would be.
There are several benefits and drawbacks to an Article 15. You have a very short time to decide whether to accept the forum or not. First of all, an Article 15 is not a guilty plea, it is choosing whether to place your fate in your Commander’s hands or not. Secondly, you need to make the decision as part of an overall strategy considering what the military will do next. When your Commander offers you an Article 15, you need to remember that he or she would not have done so if they did not believe you were guilty based upon the evidence they were given. So if you accept the Article 15, there is a fair chance you will be found guilty, and then the next step could be an administrative discharge. You need to consider that when making your decision. On the other hand, by accepting an Article 15, you guarantee that you will not face a punitive discharge, jail time, or a Federal Conviction. You have three basic options when you have been offered an Article 15. First, you can accept responsibility for your actions and beg mercy from your Commander. Second, you can tell your Commander you are not guilty and then present evidence. Even if your Commander does not agree with you, this can be very important at a discharge proceeding, so you should have a comprehensive strategy before you make any decisions. An experienced attorney can assist you in articulating your position in order to persuade your Commander or a discharge board. This is your career, do not wing it. It is quite possibly the most important letter you will ever write. Your third option is to turn down the Article 15. The rule of thumb for Commanders is to never offer an Article 15 if you are not willing to take it to Courts Martial. You should expect to be facing a special Courts Martial, but there is no guarantee. The sooner you involve an experienced attorney into the decision making process, the better advice you can get. Do not settle for an attorney not giving you the attention you deserve. This is your career, get the best advice possible and fight for it.
When the military decides to cut ties with you, it will do so with either a notification discharge or a discharge board. Not everyone is entitled to a discharge board. Newer military members will typically receive a notification discharge which allows them to submit a response to their commander to tell their side of the story. When the decision has been made to terminate your employment, you need to articulate your side as part of a comprehensive strategy to leave on honorable terms. You may not be able to convince the military to give you another chance, but there is a real possibility to upgrade your discharge, and you should not lay down and leave with less than an honorable discharge without making your case. A discharge board is for military members who have more years of service, or a member who is facing an Under Other Than Honorable Conditions (UOTHC) discharge. The board hearing will look and feel like a courts martial, but there are few rules of evidence and no judge. The burden is still on the government to prove you should be discharged and what the character of your discharge should be. If you are facing a board, you deserve an attorney who is going to give you the attention you deserve and who has a comprehensive strategy to either give you your career back, or preserve the benefits you have earned through your military service. Give me a call and we can discuss your options.
Receiving administrative paperwork can be a rough process. You have limited rights in that you can make a response, and the person who issued you the paperwork can decide whether to keep it in your personnel folder or not. This is low level discipline, but it can have long lasting effects, and you should get the best help. Do not rely upon an inexperienced attorney or their paralegal advising you how to respond to your paperwork. Get help from an attorney who will give you the attention you deserve. Ideally, this will be the only paperwork you will ever received, but a good response clearly articulating what happened can help restore your reputation. More importantly, you need to plan ahead in case this is not the only paperwork you receive. We have all seen supervisors who had it out for someone. When that paperwork starts to stack up, your responses become very important. You should always respond to show you are taking the matter seriously. And you should always consider that your responses could be evidence in a Courts Martial or Discharge Board someday. Getting assistance from an experienced attorney can make a big difference to help you articulate your side of the story in an effective manner.
Military members accused of misconduct in civilian communities find themselves facing consequences from two different jurisdictions. You have to face the consequences of the civilian court, but that is separate and distinct from any action that the military takes against you. Because they are different jurisdictions, there is no double jeopardy protection against facing action from both civilian and military authorities. Unfortunately, what civilian court systems never understand is that in the military, everything is an emergency. The wheels of justice move slowly in the civilian court system, and military authorities expect swift resolution and action. Your appointed defense counsel in the military likely has no civilian experience, and cannot represent you in a civilian court. You will be forced to find a civilian lawyer to handle your off base misconduct, and your military defense counsel will try to handle the administrative consequences with the military. It is not uncommon for the military to act before there is a resolution of your civilian case, which makes it very difficult for you to defend yourself since everything you do and say can be held against you in your civilian case. You could find yourself in a position where you have to choose between your career and your liberty. You will have a distinct advantage if you have a lawyer who can handle both jurisdictions in a comprehensive strategy, you have the opportunity to preserve both your career and your liberty.
When a military member is facing a positive drug test, the best thing you can do is not to talk to anyone. Seriously, stop talking. We have all had the experience of being ordered to pee in a cup. The vast majority of those tests are negative, but if you test positive, you are not out of options. When you test positive, two things are going to happen. First, you are going to be ordered to take another test when the results come back (typically 30 days after the first test). Second, you are going to be called in to law enforcement. Now is not the time to float your theory about what may have happened. Let’s say the only thing you can imagine is a concert you went to recently, so you tell law enforcement about that. Well, it could have been a mistake during collection, or at the lab, you don’t know how your sample tested falsely positive, and you should not try to guess. I have heard the second hand marijuana explanation more times than I can count. I have yet to encounter an expert forensic toxicologist who will say that is a remotely possible explanation. Do not guess, ask for an attorney and let’s see how the evidence comes out. If you do not make a statement, and you do not talk to your friends and co-workers, then the government has to prove what is called a naked urinalysis case. Please know that your friends and family could be forced to testify against you, especially if they are active duty. We call it that because all the government has is the drug test with no explanation of how, where, when, or how much. Acquittal rates rise dramatically when you keep your mouth shut and make the government prove their case. If you are facing a positive drug test, give me a call and we can talk about what the evidence does or does not show. Sometimes we need to make a statement, but there is no such thing as a legal emergency. Call me and lets make sure making a statement is the right thing to do before you do it. An experienced attorney can make all the difference between continuing your career or spending time in a jail cell. The other kind of drug case frequently encountered is a drug distribution case. While common sense tells us there is a big difference between drug sharing and drug selling, the UCMJ does not recognize a difference. I have seen people talk to law enforcement thinking they are talking their way out of trouble by saying they gave drugs for free to a friend, but instead they are confessing to drug distribution. Regardless of the circumstances, talking to law enforcement without first consulting an experienced attorney is never a good idea, give me a call and let’s talk about a winning strategy.
This is one of the easiest ways for a military member to get in trouble, and it seldom involves your work duties. One common context is in an extramarital affair. As soon as your Commander learns about you having a personal or romantic relationship with someone you shouldn’t, you will be issued a no contact order. Then you will be watched like a hawk. The worst thing you can do is to try and still get word to the other person. While they either cannot or will not punish you for the relationship, they will either court martial you or give you an Article 15 for failing to follow an order. No situation is hopeless though, wherever you are in the process, give me a call and we can talk about what your options are and see what the evidence shows. You can also be punished for violating a general order. The best example would be the general order prohibiting you from taking pornographic materials to a deployed location. Even if you were unaware of the prohibition, ignorance of the law is no excuse. You are subject to any number of general orders and may or may not have notice of them. Bottom line, no matter what you are facing, if you are suspected of failing to follow an order, do not try to talk your way out of it. Get a lawyer and let me do the talking for you, or at least help you come up with a winning strategy before making any decisions.