The Military justice system is necessarily different to that in civilian life. Whether you are senior commanding officer, or a junior soldier starting out, an allegation can have a devastating impact upon your military career; family life and pension.
If you have been accused of a military discipline offence, or a criminal conduct offence, it is vital you are represented at the earliest stage. When faced with an RMP investigation you may feel obliged to make disclosures to the investigating officers, as you are being investigated by your contemporaries. Your military psyche may be telling you co-operate; ‘crack on’ and answer all allegations put to you, but this may be entirely against your interests. To be charged with an offence the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA) applies the Full Code Test (FCT) as employed by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). Crucially for you, the FCT is augmented at the Public Interest Stage by consideration of the Service Interest. Therefore, even if there is evidence that you have committed an offence, and it has been deemed to be in the public interest to prosecute you, it may still not be in the ‘Service Interest’. These are complicated and sensitive legal arguments that can only be submitted on your behalf by lawyer’s specialist in this field.
If matters have progressed to the stage of summary proceedings, or trial by Court Martial, the advice and representation you receive can make the difference between a finding being made against you, or you being convicted of the offence. While you do not have the right to be legally represented at a Summary Hearing you do have the right to legal advice beforehand. The advice you receive at this stage will inform you how to approach the summary hearing, or whether to elect trial by Court Martial.
Any trial by Court Martial is an intimidating and frightening process to have to go through. You will face a Board of senior officers and the civilian Judge Advocate. What happens at the Court Martial will profoundly affect your life. Whatever charge you face you will be fearlessly raised by our expert team of military lawyers at Penman Sedgwick, who have successfully defended military personnel throughout the world.