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What Happens if You Go to Jail While in the Military?

When it comes to getting in trouble, no one wants to go to jail. Plain and simple. No one wants to go to prison for any offense but when you are in the military, the stakes are a bit higher. The military has a no crime tolerance and when you get in trouble and go to jail while the military, you may need the help of a court martial defense lawyer.

What is a Court Martial?

For those that are in the military and that commit a crime while in the military or on a military base or property, these individuals will undergo a court-martial proceeding. The court-martial proceeding is much like a civilian trial save for the fact that it is fully conducted by the military and the punishments are often far more severe than just some time in prison. Court-martials are only reserved for very serious infractions and can result in expulsion from the military entirely, pay drops, and even demotions in rank.

There are three different type of court-martial, summary, special and general and all have their own punishment and their own repercussions.  With a summary court-martial the case is heard by one officer that is judge and jury. With a special court-martial there are three jury members and a judge. With a general court-martial there are five jury members and one judge. Each is chosen based on the severity of the crime and how the military feels they should go about handling the punishment and reprimanding the person involved.

In many cases, someone that is in the military can face both a court-martial as well as, a civil trial. If the member is taking part in a civil trial, they are often going to have to face a court-martial after the trial is completed to help tie up any loose ends and to complete the process.

What Happens if you are Arrested Off Base?

In many cases, if you are arrested off base, and you are guilty of a crime when you are not on the military base, the overall punishment is going to be taken care of by a civil court and a civil judge and jury. If this is the case, the judge and jury will hear the case, the information will be collected, and then the information will be passed on to the military so that they can determine if they want to go about further punishment or further investigation.

Often times the military will decide if they want to proceed to a court martial based on the severity of the crime. If you get in jail for drunk driving for instance you are likely only going to get a reprimand. If you are indicted and jailed for felony assault on the other hand you are likely going to face a court martial as well as a civil trial and are likely going to be fully discharged from the military on a dishonorable discharge basis.

If a military official is arrested off base and is then held at a prison, the military will be notified, and in many cases, they will send an officer to the detained person to meet the conditions of bail and to get the individual released. The person will then likely go through a civil trial and see what the outcome is. After that, the officer may end up having to face military punishment as well depending on what they did and what the outcome of the trial was.

What Should You Do?

The first thing you should do if you are a member of the military and you are arrested is to contact a lawyer. This is going to allow you someone to act as a buffer between you and local law enforcement, it is going to allow you the chance to think about what happened and to collect yourself, and it is going to give you someone on your side to help build a case. With the help of a lawyer, you can build your case, you can get past whatever it was that you did and were arrested for, and you can start to work on getting back to the military. In some cases, you can fight the outcome of a court-marshal, you do need the help of a lawyer to be able to fight a court martial in a way that is going to be successful and in a way that is going to afford you the outcome that you want.

A good lawyer can help you outline your case, determine what the best course of action is, and take the time to truly make a difference in your case and in what is going to happen to you. The military is very hard on crime and does not allow for those that perpetuate crime to stay within their ranks. If you are fighting a court martial the best course of action is to take the time to get an attorney that knows about military affairs and that can help you get past your conviction and back on your feet.

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