Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas Military Criminal Lawyers
Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston Military Criminal Lawyers
If you are a servicemember stationed at Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston and facing criminal charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), it is critical that you speak with an experienced military defense lawyer as soon as possible. Military criminal cases can be complex and the consequences severe, so having strong legal counsel on your side is essential.
In this article, we’ll provide an overview of military criminal law at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, discuss some common charges, explain your rights as an accused servicemember, and share tips for choosing the right defense attorney. We know this is an incredibly stressful time, but the information here can help you make informed decisions about how to move forward.
Overview of Military Justice System
All branches of the military have their own criminal justice system that is separate from the civilian courts. The UCMJ applies to all servicemembers and governs crimes like AWOL, desertion, drug use, assault, and more. If you are suspected of violating the UCMJ, you may face an investigation, followed by court-martial charges if enough evidence is found.
Military trials operate differently than civilian ones in many ways. Key things to understand include:
- Your commander has a central role – they can impose nonjudicial punishment or refer charges for court-martial.
- There are no juries – court-martial panels consist of experienced military officers.
- Rules of evidence are relaxed compared to civilian courts.
- Conviction rates are very high – over 90% across all branches.
Because the deck is stacked against defendants, having a seasoned military defense lawyer is absolutely vital. They know how to navigate the complex military justice system and protect your rights every step of the way.
Common Criminal Charges at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston
Some of the most frequent criminal offenses we see at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston include:
- Drug crimes – Possession, use, distribution, etc. of illegal drugs.
- Assault – Violent attacks, domestic violence, battery, etc.
- Sexual assault – Rape, abuse, harassment, inappropriate relationships.
- Larceny – Theft of military or personal property.
- AWOL / desertion – Unauthorized absence or abandonment of duties.
- Disobeying orders – Failure to follow lawful regulations and commands.
These are just a few examples – there are many other offenses under the UCMJ. Even minor misconduct can trigger severe consequences like demotion, discharge, or brig time. Your lawyer’s experience with these specific charges will be invaluable.
Your Rights as the Accused
The military justice system can feel intimidating, but you have important rights that a defense attorney will protect, including:
- Right to remain silent – You don’t have to answer questions without a lawyer present.
- Presumption of innocence – The burden of proof is on the prosecution.
- Right to counsel – You can hire a civilian military lawyer, at no cost to the government.
- Right to obtain evidence – Your lawyer can request access to all evidence collected.
- Right to challenge accusers – You can cross-examine and investigate witnesses.
Never forget – you have these protections guaranteed by the UCMJ. A knowledgeable defense lawyer will leverage them to build the strongest case possible on your behalf.
Choosing the Right Attorney
Picking the right defense lawyer is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Here are tips for choosing well:
- Find someone experienced with courts-martial and UCMJ charges.
- Look for an attorney who is aggressive yet strategic – military cases require both.
- Select a lawyer with the resources to fully investigate your case.
- Make sure they have security clearance to access classified evidence if needed.
- Consider a civilian lawyer – they have more independence from military influence.
- Find someone you’re comfortable with and can be honest with.
It also helps to look for lawyers who are members of organizations like the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) or the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA), which require experience, continuing education, and peer review for membership.
Don’t leave your future up to chance – vet attorneys thoroughly and trust your gut. The right lawyer for you is out there.
Where to Find Top Military Defense Lawyers
Some excellent options to consider for UCMJ representation at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston include:
- Michael Waddington – Founder of UCMJ Defense Lawyers, board certified in criminal trial advocacy with over 15 years of military justice experience.
- Greg Rinckey – Managing partner of Tully Rinckey PLLC, former JAG attorney with proven success defending complex courts-martial.
- Frank Spinner – Of Spinner & Feldman, an Army veteran and founding member of the National Association of Military Defense Lawyers.
Take time researching all your options – freedom and military career are on the line. An experienced JBSA-Fort Sam Houston lawyer can analyze your charges, explain defenses, negotiate with prosecutors, and fight to get charges dropped or minimized.
Facing military criminal allegations is scary, but you are not alone. Connect with a dedicated defense lawyer to advise you each step, build the strongest case possible, and give you peace of mind. They can help you avoid or beat a court-martial conviction so you can move forward with your service and life.