Members of the U.S. Military have a duty and certain responsibilities that few civilians can understand. With several military bases located throughout Washington, including Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base, it is important to know that when a service member is charged with a crime, either on or off a base, they will be subjected to a different justice system and oftentimes more consequences than a civilian would endure. At The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PLLC, we not only appreciate your service, but also realize what’s at stake if you are convicted of a criminal offense. Without effective and skilled legal representation, you are putting your career, reputation, and freedom at stake. We also offer discounts for veterans and active service members.
Why are Military Members Treated Differently?
Military law is governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which operates differently than the criminal justice system that applies to civilians. Sometimes, the UCMJ offers more protections than normal citizens have. For instance, if a service member is being investigated for a crime by the military, he or she can present witnesses or offer evidence before charges are filed. This is not an opportunity offered under state or federal law. In fact, sometimes civilians don’t know they are the targets of an investigation until they are arrested and formally charged. While the UCMJ prohibits and punishes several actions that are also similarly criminalized under state or federal law, there are also offenses and behaviors that are not illegal for civilians, such as adultery and fraternization.
Because military cases are considerably different than civilian proceedings, when a member of the military is charged in civilian court, its potential impact and how it is handled by the military will largely depend on the specific circumstances among other factors. For example, if convicted, military members not only face civilian penalties like incarceration and fines, they will also need to contend with other serious repercussions, such as:
- A demotion in rank and pay scale
- Official reprimands attached to your military personnel file
- The loss of your gun rights for certain offenses, which is usually a military requirement
- Possible discharge or termination from your branch of service.
Common Charges for Members of the Military
With a track record of obtaining the best possible resolutions for military members, The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PLLC can assist you with a wide range of criminal charges, including:
Across the country, it is illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence, but for members of the military the consequences for a DUI can be even more severe. This can include an inability to be deployed because you can’t operate vehicles and losing vital security clearances.
As a service member, you are largely held to a different standard of conduct than civilians and an assault or other violent crime conviction can have a wide array of serious penalties depending on your rank, the status of the victim, and other circumstances.
Firearms and other weapons are issued to armed services members as part of their job functions. If these are used improperly or to threaten another person, the possible penalties can be exceptionally harsh.
How a Tacoma Military Defense Lawyer Can Help
If you are a member of the armed services, being charged with a crime can have significant implications at the civilian and military level. It is important to find a knowledgeable defense lawyer that not only knows how your military career can be affected, but also how to achieve the best overall outcome.
At The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PLLC, we will consider every option in your defense and are prepared to handle your case from start to finish. This could mean conducting an exhaustive investigation to uncover any mistakes, violations of your rights, or any jurisdictional issues that can arise when military members are investigated by civilian authorities. We will utilize any available military programs that civilian courts honor to address specific charges and other requirements. Additionally, Tacoma military defense attorney Morgan Fletcher Benfield will negotiate on your behalf to either reduce or eliminate the charges against you and will craft the strongest possible defense strategy if your case proceeds to trial.