What Does a Military Law Attorney Do?

What Does a Military Law Attorney Do?

The military legal arena is distinctly different from the civilian landscape. A knowledgeable military lawyer can help service members navigate it, providing support and guidance throughout the process.

These attorneys, known as JAGs (Judge Advocate General’s Corps), can represent clients at a variety of hearings, including courts-martial and administrative separation boards. They also can represent clients at appeals.

1. Experience

The military has a complex legal system that is different from the civilian world that many people are familiar with. For service members who are at odds with this system, the expertise of a military law attorney can be critical. But what does a military defense lawyer actually do?

The path to becoming a military attorney starts like any other lawyer: rigorous law school education and passing state bar exams. However, it is the military experiences that these individuals have had that give them a unique set of character traits and skills. These qualities and skills can help them to become excellent attorneys when they go into the civilian world of practice.

In addition, the military experience that these individuals have also creates a sense of discipline and dedication. These are the same traits that will enable them to be able to keep their cases organized and move forward at a steady pace.

Having the right lawyer in the case of a Court Martial is very important. While it is possible to be represented by a JAG officer during the Court Martial, there are times when having an independent civilian military attorney who has defended both officers and enlisted personnel is very beneficial. This type of military lawyer will also be able to provide insight into the prosecutor’s strategy and offer advice on how to best defend yourself.

2. Reputation

When dealing with the UCMJ or court-martial cases, military lawyers have a specialized understanding of the unique laws and regulations that govern the armed forces. They can use this knowledge to challenge evidence, identify procedural errors, and advocate for a more favorable resolution on behalf of their clients.

Civilian lawyers do not have this specialized background, which may make them less proficient when trying a military case. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t get the job done. Civilian lawyers may have more freedom to explore their client’s case from different angles, and employ civilian research procedures which could prove beneficial in the end.

Another difference between civilian and JAG attorneys is that, in the courtroom, the jury at a court martial only consists of commissioned officers versus the larger and more diverse group of civilians used in civil courts. This also affects the jury’s ability to understand a case, which is crucial in determining the outcome of the case and sentence.

Don King at King Military Law has an outstanding reputation in military law and court-martial defense. He is a former captain in the United States Navy Reserve Judge Advocate General’s Corps and is thoroughly familiar with the intricacies of military justice and how it differs from civilian criminal proceedings. He is ready to put his vast experience as an attorney, prosecutor, and judge to work for you.

3. Fees

While an unfavorable court martial verdict may seem expensive at first glance, it can have a much greater cost down the road. If convicted, a service member can lose their career and any future employment opportunities due to a criminal record. To put that into perspective, a five-year E-4 would be losing roughly $25,000 in annual income. That’s why it’s crucial to hire a civilian lawyer that specializes in military law.

An experienced civilian military defense attorney understands the intricacies of the military justice system and will be able to identify any weaknesses in the government’s case. They will also be able to provide the culturally sensitive representation necessary to navigate this unique arena.

Civilian military attorneys can charge hourly rates but most do not find that this is the best way to serve their clients. When evaluating fees, you should ask how many cases the lawyer plans to juggle at once. If they are taking on 5 other pending cases while you’re facing yours, the time they spend on each case will be disproportionately distributed and you’ll get less attention.

In addition, many military installations offer free or low-cost legal services to their personnel through the Armed Forces Legal Assistance program or a local legal clinic. Contact the Armed Forces Legal Assistance website or use their locator based on zip code to see if there’s an office near you.

4. Communication

Oftentimes, military legal matters have to be dealt with quickly. This is especially true in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct, which have rocketed to prominence for Servicemembers across commands due to the “me too” movement and Congressional hearings. As such, your lawyer should always be available to answer your questions and alleviate your concerns promptly and effectively.

A military attorney’s job is much broader than simply handling court-martial cases, though that is one of their primary areas of expertise. They are also involved in advising military clients on issues of both civil and military law, which can be highly complicated. The work that they do can not only affect individual servicemembers but also their branch of service and the United States government as a whole.

Additionally, military lawyers know how to deal with the unique issues that may arise during an investigation, particularly those involving sexual misconduct. As such, they are able to provide valuable guidance that can help a Servicemember avoid serious penalties or even possible separation. A service member should never consent to speak with investigators without first consulting an experienced military lawyer.

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