04 Oct 23

Washington Military Criminal Lawyers

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Last Updated on: 7th October 2023, 05:00 pm

Washington Military Criminal Lawyers

If you are a member of the military and facing criminal charges, you need an experienced military criminal defense lawyer. Military law is complex and the consequences for a conviction are severe. This article provides an overview of military criminal law in Washington and how a knowledgeable attorney can help.

Types of Military Offenses

The military justice system handles crimes committed by service members under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Some of the most common offenses include:

  • AWOL/Desertion
  • Assault
  • Drug use/possession
  • Sexual assault
  • Larceny/theft

Military prosecutors can also charge service members with civilian crimes like murder, arson, fraud, etc. The military has jurisdiction over these under the UCMJ.

Unique Aspects of Military Law

While military courts operate similarly to civilian courts, there are some key differences:

  • Harsher punishments – including confinement, demotion, discharge, and loss of benefits
  • No jury trials – cases decided by military judge or panel
  • Different rules of evidence and procedure
  • Fast case processing – trials often within weeks of charges

These and other aspects highlight the need for a military law specialist. A civilian criminal lawyer will not understand the complexities involved.

Choosing a Military Lawyer

When facing a military criminal charge, it’s important to have an experienced attorney on your side. Here are some tips for choosing the right military lawyer in Washington:

  • Find someone who specializes in military law – it is a niche area of law.
  • Make sure they are familiar with the UCMJ, military courts, and your base procedures.
  • Choose a lawyer with experience handling your type of charges – assault, theft, AWOL, etc.
  • Understand the military justice experience – number of courts-martial, knowledge of judges/prosecutors.
  • Consider credentials like former JAG attorneys who have prosecuted and defended cases.

You need someone well-versed in this complex area of law to build the strongest defense.

How a Military Lawyer Can Defend You

An experienced military defense lawyer will protect your rights and fight to get the best possible outcome. Here are some of the ways we defend service members:

  • Thoroughly investigate the allegations and weaken the prosecution’s case.
  • Identify procedural errors and constitutional rights violations.
  • Challenge improper searches, coerced statements, and false testimony.
  • Advise you throughout the military justice process so you understand each step.
  • Negotiate with the prosecution to get charges reduced or dismissed.
  • Aggressively defend you at trial with motions, cross-examination, and defense witnesses.
  • Present mitigating evidence at sentencing to minimize penalties.
  • File appeals to higher military courts if you are convicted.
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Having a former military prosecutor on your side levels the playing field against the government.

Common Defenses in Military Cases

Some of the most effective defenses we employ in military criminal cases include:

  • Lack of Evidence – Many charges hinge on weak evidence that can be challenged.
  • Unlawful Command Influence – Improper influence from senior officials can invalidate a case [5].
  • Unlawful Searches – Evidence obtained illegally gets thrown out.
  • Self-Defense – Legitimate use of force against an aggressor.
  • Good Military Character – Years of honorable service can rebut allegations.
  • Mental Health – Issues like PTSD may excuse misconduct.

An experienced lawyer knows how to analyze the facts and apply defenses that work.

Potential Outcomes and Consequences

If convicted at court-martial, penalties can include:

  • Prison time
  • Dishonorable or bad conduct discharge
  • Forfeiture of pay and benefits
  • Reduction in rank

These punishments can destroy a military career and follow you for life. An acquittal or dismissal allows you to move on and continue serving.

Why a Court-Martial Should be Avoided

Every case is different, but in general courts-martial should be avoided if possible. Here’s why:

  • Military jury trials are risky – only need 2/3 for conviction, not unanimous.
  • Judges/panel members often favor the prosecution.
  • Conviction rates are high compared to civilian courts.
  • Punishments are harsher than civilian justice system.
  • Federal conviction makes it difficult to find future employment.
  • A federal conviction affects your VA benefits.

It’s usually better to negotiate a plea deal or administrative discharge instead of chancing a guilty verdict.

Alternative Forms of Case Resolution

Rather than risk trial, your attorney may be able to negotiate:

  • Plea Deal – Plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence.
  • Resignation in Lieu of Court-Martial – Resign your commission to avoid prosecution.
  • Administrative Discharge – Leave the service without a conviction.
  • Other Actions – Reprimand, counseling, fines, etc.

This avoids the consequences of a federal conviction while allowing you to move on.

The Appeal Process

If convicted, you can appeal to higher military courts – the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and even the U.S. Supreme Court. Grounds for appeal include:

  • Errors of law by the judge
  • Lack of sufficient evidence
  • Unduly harsh sentence
  • Violation of your constitutional rights

A military appeals lawyer can fight to have your conviction or sentence overturned. With a solid legal foundation, many verdicts get reversed on appeal.

Clemency and Parole

After appeals are exhausted, there are still options like:

  • Clemency – The convening authority can reduce your sentence.
  • Parole – Early release from confinement.
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We prepare clemency packages and represent clients before parole boards to seek relief. Don’t give up hope.

Finding the Right Lawyer

Facing military criminal allegations is frightening. But an experienced attorney levels the playing field. Look for someone who:

  • Focuses exclusively on military law.
  • Has experience as a JAG attorney.
  • Understands the military justice system.
  • Will aggressively defend your rights.
  • Has a proven record of success.

This gives you the best chance at a positive outcome. Don’t leave your military career to chance – hire a top military defense lawyer.

We represent service members worldwide for all types of military criminal allegations. Contact us 24/7 for a free case evaluation.


[1] National Institute of Justice Style Guide
[2] Public Law 109-163
[3] National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020
[4] Defense Department letter spells out University of Phoenix infractions
[5] Judge: Obama exerted ‘unlawful command influence’ in speaking on military sexual assault
[6] U.S. Army Center of Military History Style Guide