Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) covers the process of establishing a formal investigation into criminal charges, which could ultimately result in a general court-martial for the accused. An Article 32 investigation is loosely the equivalent of a grand jury investigation in the civilian federal court system but provides more procedural safeguards that protect the GI’s rights.
An Article 32 investigation determines whether charges will be dismissed or proceed to a court-martial or administrative separations board. It is an adversarial process. The service member under investigation will have every opportunity to present evidence for the defense, as well as cross-examine witnesses brought forth by the prosecution. It is the accused’s first opportunity to begin preparing and presenting an effective defense while challenging the validity and legality of the prosecution’s prospective case. An Article 32 pretrial investigation does not result in a guilty verdict but could result in charges being dismissed for lack of evidence to proceed.
If you’re in trouble with the military, don’t leave your future to chance. We assist members of the military with criminal matters throughout Virginia, including Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Lee, Fort Eustis, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Fort Belvoir, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Naval Weapons Station Yorktown & Langley AFB. Call us today.
Your Military Career is Important – We Understand This
At Williams Stone, PC, we understand that your military career is potentially in jeopardy after you’ve been arrested. If you are convicted of a crime and dishonorably discharged, you may also be faced with complications in receiving a job in the civilian world as well. It is vitally important that you retain the representation of an experienced military defense lawyer as soon as possible. Anthony Williams & Eric Stone both spent 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps & successfully defended hundreds of service members and kept them from being discharged from the military. Successful defense at your hearing requires as much preparation and insight as any other form of discipline in the military. We prepare clients for nonjudicial punishment as if they are going to court-martial. It’s that serious.
If you have received notification that you are the subject of a command investigation or Article 32 investigation, contact our law office now.
Do Not Waive Your Right to an Article 32 Investigation
This is a very important right — having your charge thoroughly investigated — and this right should never be waived without considerable deliberation and reflection with an experienced attorney. While the investigating officer is responsible for the conduct of the hearing, usually a prosecutor presents evidence to the investigating officer who sits in a quasi-judicial role.
Some of the significant differences between an Article 32 hearing and a grand jury are at an Article 32:
- The accused has a right to be present during the entire hearing
- The hearing is open to the public
- The accused has a right to counsel at the hearing
- The accused has a right to question witnesses
- The accused has the right to present physical evidence and witnesses
- The accused has a right to argue or comment on the evidence
These rights are very important. You should never waive your rights to a pretrial investigation. As you can tell, there is a very good opportunity for the defense to discover evidence and to get a preview both of what evidence the government may have against you and to hear witnesses testify from the witness stand.
After the hearing is over, the investigating officer creates a report to submit to the commander who appointed him. There are several things that are required to be included in that report, but of importance are opinions as to whether reasonable grounds exist to believe the accused committed the offense and recommendations of the investigating officer, including disposition.
These opinions, conclusions, and recommendations are important because they could end up including a conclusion there is insufficient evidence or a recommendation to dismiss the charges. While the commander is not required to follow the recommendations and may disagree with opinions and conclusions, the investigating officer’s report should be given considerable weight.
Once the report is completed, it goes to the commander who may dispose of the charges in her discretion. If she determines that it should be forwarded to the Commanding General exercising General Court-martial authority, it will first go to that General’s Staff Judge Advocate (his legal advisor). The Staff Judge Advocate is required to also make a recommendation before it is passed on to the General for a final determination as to what will happen to the charges.
Contact Williams Stone, PC Today
From our offices in Northern Virginia, we represent members of the U.S. Armed Forces and military contractors involved in military justice cases and investigations at installations throughout the United States. In Virginia, we service Fort A.P. Hill near Bowling Green, Fort Lee in Prince George County, Fort Eustis near Newport News, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall around Arlington, Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Naval Weapons Station Yorktown in York County & Langley AFB adjacent to Hampton & Newport News. The right military attorney can save your career. Contact Williams Stone, PC today to get the assistance you need.