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Last Updated on: 7th October 2023, 09:03 pm
Fort Meade, Maryland Military Criminal Lawyers – Your Guide to Legal Help on Base
If you are a servicemember stationed at Fort Meade and facing criminal charges, you need experienced legal help. Military criminal law is complex, and the consequences for a conviction are severe. This article provides an overview of military criminal law at Fort Meade and how an attorney can defend your rights.
Common Criminal Offenses at Fort Meade
Some of the most common offenses we see at Fort Meade include:
- Drug crimes – possession, use, distribution
- Assault, battery, domestic violence
- Sexual assault, harassment
- Larceny, theft
- AWOL, desertion
The military prosecutes these crimes under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The UCMJ contains specific articles that define each offense and set maximum punishments.
How Military Criminal Cases Are Prosecuted
There are three types of courts-martial in the military justice system:
- Summary Court-Martial – for minor misconduct, no confinement authorized
- Special Court-Martial – misdemeanors, max confinement of 1 year
- General Court-Martial – felonies, max confinement of life without parole
Cases can also be handled through an Article 15 non-judicial punishment by a commanding officer. While less severe than a court-martial, an Article 15 can still result in rank reduction, fines, restrictions, and extra duty.
Why You Need an Attorney
Military criminal law is a complex area. The procedures and rules are different than civilian courts. Here are some key reasons to hire an attorney:
- Protect your military career and benefits
- Avoid jail time and lessen potential penalties
- Navigate the military justice system
- Challenge evidence and investigate the case
- Negotiate with the prosecution
How Civilian Military Lawyers Can Help
Civilian military defense attorneys have key advantages over military JAG lawyers:
- No command influence or pressure to avoid zealous defense
- Often have more trial experience than young JAG attorneys
- Not limited to military bases or regions
- Can provide continuity of counsel after discharge from military
Finding the Right Attorney for You
When researching attorneys for your case, be sure to ask about:
- Experience handling similar cases at Fort Meade
- Past results in military trials and appeals
- Familiarity with military law, procedures, and regulations
- Resources they use to investigate and build a defense
- Flat fee or hourly billing options
A good attorney will treat you with respect, be responsive, and fully explain your options. Trust your gut feeling – you need someone you feel comfortable confiding in.
First Steps After Charges Are Filed
If you are under investigation or have been read charges, you should immediately:
- Remain silent and avoid making statements
- Contact a civilian military lawyer for guidance
- Follow procedures for consulting with a JAG attorney
- Start gathering evidence, witnesses, and documents
- Take steps to preserve your military career and benefits
An attorney can advise you on your rights and help develop a defense strategy. Time is of the essence, so don’t delay.
Common Defenses in Military Cases
Some defenses our attorneys frequently use in military cases include:
- Lack of evidence – challenge the sufficiency and quality of the evidence against you.
- Unlawful command influence – improper actions by superiors that prejudiced the case.
- Unlawful searches – exclude evidence obtained through unconstitutional searches.
- Self-defense – use of force was legally justified and necessary.
- Insanity – couldn’t appreciate criminality of conduct or conform behavior.
- Duress – carried out act under an immediate threat of serious harm.
An experienced attorney will know how to craft the best defense by exploiting legal flaws and holding the prosecution to strict burdens of proof.
Negotiating a Favorable Plea Bargain
Many military cases end in a plea agreement instead of a contested trial. The prosecution may offer a deal if:
- They have a weak case
- You have information to trade
- You were a minor participant
- You take responsibility and show remorse
An attorney can negotiate with the prosecution to reduce charges and limit penalties. This helps avoid the risk of conviction at a full court-martial.
Types of Court-Martial Penalties
If convicted at court-martial, potential penalties include:
- Prison time
- Dishonorable or bad conduct discharge
- Forfeiture of pay and allowances
- Reduction in rank
- Reprimand or admonition
An attorney’s goal is avoiding these through dismissal of charges, acquittal at trial, or a favorable plea deal.
The Appeal Process
Convictions by court-martial can be appealed through the military courts and ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court. Grounds for appeal include:
- Lack of jurisdiction
- Unlawful command influence
- Insufficient evidence
- Denial of speedy trial
- Excessive or cruel sentence
- Ineffective assistance of counsel
A skilled military lawyer will preserve issues for appeal. Most appeals result in reduced sentences or reversed convictions.
Administrative Separation Boards
If facing involuntary discharge, you could end up before an administrative separation board. They will determine if you should be:
- Honorably discharged
- Generally discharged
- Discharged under other than honorable conditions
Since this affects veteran’s benefits, put up a strong defense with an attorney’s help.
Hiring a Lawyer You Can Trust
Facing military justice charges at Fort Meade is frightening. Your military career, benefits, freedom and reputation are all on the line. Protect yourself with aggressive legal representation from an experienced civilian military lawyer. They will stand by your side and fight for the best possible outcome at every stage.
Don’t leave your fate to chance. The prosecution won’t hold back, and neither should you. Hire a lawyer you can trust and sleep better at night knowing your case is covered.