We all think of the military only as the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The military has its own justice system separate from the civilian justice system. Military courts do not use the same lawyers that the rest of us do. There is a special section of the military devoted to representing service men and women in various military law cases. This legal branch of the military is known as the JAGs. JAG stands for Judge Advocate Generals. JAG officers and a military defense lawyer are vital to maintaining order within our armed forces. There are various types of cases Judge Advocates can help with, these include:
- Physical and Medical Evaluation Board
- Administrative Separation Boards
- Correction of Military Records
- Courts-Martial Defense
- Discharge Review Board (DRB)
- Veterans Benefits
Physical and Medical Evaluation Board
To be part of the military, service men and women have to be in great physical shape. When there is an issue involving someone’s physical capabilities, the case goes to the Physical Evaluation Board who works closely with the Medical Evaluation Board. Together they will determine if separation or retirement from the military is necessary. There are multiple steps to this process.
First, the MEB Board will determine if your medical condition makes you unable to complete your military service. The Physical Education Board then hands down a final answer based on information from the MEB board. The Army, Navy, and Air Force each have their own Physical Evaluation Boards. Each of these individual boards has their own rules and regulation that differ significantly from one another. These different boards with varying procedures can prove confusing for service members. A military defense lawyer can be very helpful to have on your side.
Administration Separation Boards
The Administration Separation Board is like the dean’s office of the military. When you are there, it is almost never for a good thing. For service members, they are there when they are under investigation for misconduct or for a history of unsatisfactory job performance. This board will also determine the punishment for the service man or woman if found guilty. These penalties can result in career losses, loss of honor, loss of retirement pay and benefits, and the issuance of an Other Than Honorable discharge. This can damage not only the service member’s reputation and pride but also their opportunity for future quality employment. This can be a life changing decision coming down from the Administration Separation Board, so it is vital to have the most help on your side. The best way to do this is by hiring a military defense lawyer.
Correction of Military Records
Military records are critical for service men and women. They are vital when ex-service members are applying to jobs. Discharge papers are highly sought after by certain employers when hiring ex-service men and women. There are specific benchmarks for requesting a Correction of Military Records. To apply to have your military records modified, you must provide enough proof to convince the board that the information is incorrect. The second reason is that you have been a victim of an injustice of some sort concerning the information contained in your records. A military defense lawyer can help you prepare the burden of proof and correct documentation to give you the best chance of receiving a correction to your record.
Court Martial Defense
There are three different kinds of court martial, and a military defense lawyer can be vital to each. The mildest form of a court-martial is a summary court martial. In these hearings, the service man or woman will not have legal counsel. This makes consultation before the hearing even more critical for the accused service member.
The second court martial called a BCD Special Courts-Martial would be the equivalent of a misdemeanor in civilian court. The service man or woman get to decide who hears their case, they have the option to choose from a panel of at least three officers, a military judge, or a panel consisting of at least a third of enlisted service members. A military defense lawyer can help greatly when making these decisions.
The last but also most severe form of a court martial is a General Courts-Martial. Under a General Courts-Martial, there is a preliminary hearing similar to a grand jury in civilian court. A major difference, however, is that in the Court-Martial hearing it is not done secretly. Also, the accused is permitted to have legal counsel present as representation and to cross-examine witnesses. If the case does go passed this point, and to trial, the accused like in a BCD Courts-Martial has the choice of what kind of jury they want. Hiring a good military lawyer can be the difference between keeping your military career intact or having your military and civilian life is thrown into turmoil.