Should I Hire a Civilian Attorney if I am Facing a Court Martial?

Courts-martial are usually only called for serious, military-specific charges such as mutiny, desertion, or insubordination. They can also be called if a service member is charged with a civilian crime such as manslaughter. Being court-martialed is a serious and stressful experience, and you need to ensure that you have the best possible defense on your side.

In most cases, the service will provide you with a free military defense attorney. However, you can also hire a civilian attorney to represent you at your court-martial as well. There are many reasons to do so, and whether you decide to proceed will depend mainly on your particular case as well as your circumstances.

Since the consequences of being found guilty in a court-martial are so severe, including a loss of livelihood and potential loss of freedom, it’s worthwhile considering all your options when selecting your defense team. Here are some of the benefits of hiring a civilian defense attorney.

Pooling Resources

You don’t have to have only one attorney on your case. In many cases, you can retain your military defense attorney as well as hiring a civilian lawyer, meaning that they can pool their resources and expertise together to come up with the best defense possible. The assigned military attorney will be capable of assisting the civilian attorney, especially in areas of military legal matters.

Fewer Time Constraints

Like their public defense counterparts in the civilian world, military defense lawyers can have a caseload in the hundreds. This means that they don’t really have the time to delve deep into your case. While this may not be a problem if your case is simple, it can hurt your defense if your case is complex.

Civilian attorneys who are willing to take on military cases generally have a lighter caseload, as they can pick and choose which cases they work on. They can spend much more time on your case, giving them extra insight into the nuances of the case, which then allows them to mount a stronger defense in your favor.

More Years of Experience

Since you can’t choose your military defense lawyer, you may end up with someone who has very strong credentials but less experience in defending your type of case. Experience generally counts much more than credentials, so it’s worthwhile to shore up your defense by hiring a civilian attorney who has experience in handling cases similar to yours.

No Chain of Command

Civilian attorneys are not part of the military and have no stake in the internal politics that can hinder military defense attorneys. Without the chain of command hovering over them, civilian attorneys can investigate your case more deeply and can raise concerns about high-ranking military lawyers or officials without any fear of damaging their careers.

Choosing the Right Civilian Defense Attorney

If you’re made the decision to work with a civilian attorney, you need to take the time to find the best possible lawyer for your case. If you’re stationed at either Fort Carson or Peterson Air Force Base, you can take a look at the Colorado Bar Association to see if there are any attorneys that can handle cases such as yours.

If you are charged with a criminal offense, you should strongly consider hiring a civilian criminal defense attorney, such as the experienced partners at Anaya-McKedy, who have years of experience working with both civilian and military criminal cases. If you’re about to face your court-martial, get in touch and find out why they’re the best criminal defense lawyers in Colorado.