As many members of our legal team have served in the military, our Colorado Springs military lawyers have firsthand experience that guides us in serving our clients’ military legal needs.
If you find yourself in need of a military lawyer, our Colorado Springs military legal team has experience defending and guiding military personnel during their time of need. Not only does our practice draw upon the strong ethical lessons that we learned in the military, but it also has enabled our team to fight hard and relentlessly for our clients.
Offenses committed in the military have the potential to end a career. Due to the complexity of this field, it can be difficult to determine your options once you become aware that you are under investigation for violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) or other offenses. You feel worried about your career and future if you are accused or suspected of an offense in the military.
A person accused of wrongdoing under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) may have to face a court-martial. A court-martial is a criminal trial for members of the armed forces who have been accused of crimes outlined in the UCMJ Punitive Articles. The UCMJ permits an investigation, which functions like a pretrial hearing in state or federal civil court, to proceed. The investigation aims to determine if a crime was committed and if there is good reason to believe that the person accused committed it.
If the accused is found guilty, serious punishments may be imposed. Penalties may include pay forfeiture, confinement, and rank reduction. In cases of sex crimes, the offense may also carry the additional punishment of having to register as a sex offender.
Congress, in creating the military justice system, established three types of courts-martial:
A summary court-martial (SCM) is the least formal of the three types of courts-martial and the least protective of a soldier’s rights. The SCM is a streamlined trial process involving only one officer who theoretically performs the prosecutorial, defense counsel, judicial, and panel member (juror) functions. The purpose of this type of court-martial is to dispose promptly of relatively minor offenses. Since the SCM is a streamlined procedure providing fewer protections and rights, the maximum possible punishment is very limited. Furthermore, it may try only enlisted personnel and only those who consent to be tried by SCM.
Special courts-martial generally try offenses that are considered misdemeanors. The formality and procedural protections are much more involved in a special court-martial as opposed to a summary court-martial. Convening authorities can refer a case to two types of special courts-martial: those consisting of a military judge and four members (although the accused can later elect to trial by military judge alone); and those consisting of a military judge alone.
A general court-martial is the highest trial level in military law and is reserved for the most serious offenses. It is characterized as a felony court and may try anyone subject to the UCMJ, including; enlisted members, warrant officers, and commissioned officers.
Many veterans are frustrated that, despite going on to lead successful lives since their discharge, they are treated unfairly based on a single incident—often one that happened at a young age. There is, however, hope for these veterans.
Whether you need to correct a mistake in your military record or upgrade your discharge, our Colorado Springs military lawyers at Kanthaka Group can help.
The process to upgrade a military discharge requires several documents from your time in the military. These include but are not limited to; military records, awards, counselings, evaluations, discharge paperwork, and most important—character references. These documents will provide a better overall view of your entire military service.
The entire process may take several months or even years for the review board to review and make a determination. If the upgrade is denied, you have the option to appeal the decision and request an in-person board.
In the military, there are different types of discharges, all of which have a different impact on benefits, education, and employment prospects. These include:
The highest level of discharge a service member can receive is an Honorable Discharge. These discharges reflect outstanding service. Members who receive an honorable discharge will be entitled to all the rights and benefits that veterans are entitled to.
When discharged with General and Under Honorable Conditions, a person is likely to be seen by employers as having potential discipline and behavior problems. A person with a General discharge is likely to be viewed less favorably by most employers. Furthermore, if you have been discharged by general discharge, you will lose some benefits, such as the GI Bill.
Potential employers will view someone who has been assigned an Other Than Honorable (OTH) discharge as a person with substantial problems with discipline and behavior. As a result, many employers will avoid hiring these individuals, making it difficult for them to find fulfilling employment. Members discharged with an OTH will also lose out on numerous benefits.
Discharges of this nature are considered punitive and employers will view these individuals the most negatively. You will need to apply to the Board for Correction of Military Records if you received these types of discharges by special court-martial or general court-martial.
Service members receive this type of discharge if they serve less than six months. Discharges like these are not necessarily negative, but the service member may be seen as someone who lacked the drive to complete basic training. Upgrading these discharges isn’t easy, but it is still possible.
Divorce poses special issues to military families. Having a thorough understanding of military divorce issues will lead to better decisions and outcomes.
Members of the military are protected under the Service Members Civil Relief Act, which allows them to “devote their entire attention to the military needs of the nation.” This special congressional protection prevents legal proceedings from being brought against the service member while still on active duty and for sixty days following.
Certainly not. However, a service member who is served a motion in a family law matter can ask the court to “stay” the proceedings, or in other words, postpone the case. If granted, the judge may stay the proceedings for no less than 90 days.
This depends on who initiates the divorce. In a case initiated by the service member, the state where he or she is stationed can have jurisdiction over the case. If a spouse initiates a divorce, the jurisdiction may be in the state where the spouse resides. Our attorneys can explain in more detail how jurisdiction is determined.
According to the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA), a state must meet certain conditions to assume jurisdiction over retirement pay. When a marriage lasts less than ten years, the USFSPA prohibits direct payments of military retirement pay to a former spouse, but some states may still award a former spouse a monetary award for a portion of retired military pay.
Our Colorado Springs military lawyers have significant experience in handling courts-martial, reprimands, military divorce, separation boards, and investigations. Kanthaka Group is a law practice based on time-honored legal practices and ethical principles.
By standing with you today, our military lawyers seek to guide you to a better tomorrow. For thoughtful and informed legal guidance, contact our Colorado Springs military lawyers for an initial consultation or call us at (719)-633-2222.
Suicide and Depression Awareness: http://www.learnpsychology.org/suicide-depression-student-guidebook/