Author - Gagne Scherer and Associates

Three Steps To Take Before You Hire a Criminal Military Defense Lawyer

Have You Been Investigated or Charged With a Military Crime? When you are faced with an arrest for a military crime[1], it is important that you immediately work with an attorney that understands military law and the potential long-term obstacles that could come from a conviction. Many service members in your situation choose to rely on the appointed military defense counsel. Often times this occurs because the appointed attorney is paid for by the U.S. government and the accused does not wish to pay for representation.  By retaining a civilian criminal defense attorney, however, you can maximize the chances of a successful outcome because you will be working with a lawyer who can allot sufficient time to your case and who will create a strategy […]

Special Courts-Martial

In the military, court martial trials are governed by the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM), which contains the Uniform Code of Military Justice [1](UCMJ), Rules for Courts-Martial (RCM) and the Military Rules of Evidence [2](MRE).  Chapter II, Rule 201(f)(2) [3] of the Manual for Courts-Martial provides, in part, as follows: “Special courts-martial. (A) In general. Except as otherwise expressly provided, special courts-martial may try any person subject to the code for any noncapital offense made punishable by the code and, as provided in this rule, for capital offenses.” A special court-martial is the intermediate level court-martial and is often characterized as the military equivalent of a civilian misdemeanor court.  A special court-martial may try anyone subject to the UCMJ, including officers, midshipmen, reservists who allegedly committed […]

Two Concerns Regarding BAH Or Travel Voucher Fraud

Base Allowance for Housing and Travel Voucher Fraud All branches of the Armed Forces are cracking down on Base Allowance for Housing [1] (BAH) and Travel Voucher Fraud[2] and abuse.  Using targeted investigations and random audits, various command auditors are focusing on service members taking advantage of these sources of additional cash. BAH and Travel Voucher fraud prosecutions uncover recurring patterns including: Fake rental agreements False home or record information Family living in low-cost area, but claiming a high-cost address Fake marriages / Falsified marriage documents Divorces never reported to base finance office and/or DFAS False claim of having dependents Claiming elevated numbers of dependents False travel claims Inflated number of trips Mileages inflated / Trip distances exaggerated False requests for reimbursement BAH and Travel […]

The Army Court of Criminal Appeals Granted an Alleged Victim’s Petition and Reverses a Military Judge’s Ruling Regarding Mental Health Records

On February 1, 2016, the Army Court of Criminal Appeals released an opinion in the case of United States v. Ducksworth[1], No 201507690.  In the Ducksworth case, the alleged victim requested that the appellate court set aside the military judge’s ruling and to declare her mental health records, which had been the subject of the ruling, to be inadmissible at trial. In the underlying case, the accused, Sergeant Ducksworth, was charged with allegedly committing sexual offenses against two victims.  In September 2015, the military judge ordered the government to produce all of the victim’s records maintained by the Alaska Office of Child Services as well as two civilian mental health providers.  Those records were ordered to be produced although the alleged victim had not been afforded […]

How The Military Punishes Convicted Sex Offenders and How a Military Defense Attorney Can Help You Avoid It

Military members found guilty of sexual assault, child pornography, or other sex offenses face a wide variety of potential penalties. The sentence issued in each particular case can vary widely depending on the nature of the charges and the particular jury or judge who heard the case. Sentences can include some or all of the following: Dishonorable discharge Civilian sex offender registration Lengthy prison sentence Life in prison Death penalty (for certain offenses such as child rape) While some military members receive no confinement at all, this almost never happens. Others have recently sentences of up to 144 years in prison. The Associated Press recently reported1 that 61 percent of the 1,233 offenders in military prisons received sex crime convictions, demonstrating that prison time is […]

Reasons To Avoid a Military Sex Conviction At All Costs

  With the increased media and congressional attention on alleged military sex crimes, more and more military members are facing false accusations of sexual assault and other sex offenses. When you are facing such accusations, you need to avoid a conviction whenever possible because of the severity of some of the penalties for these convictions. Prison time – While sentencing for sex offenses in the military can vary widely, confinement in a military prison is almost always part of the sentence. Spending time in prison is always a frightening prospect. Your freedom is taken from you and you’re penned-in with strangers who have also been convicted of serious offenses. In addition to being separated from society, you might become alienated from your spouse, children, and […]

3 Ways To Defend Against Military Attempted-Murder Charges

Allegations of attempted murder are among the most serious accusations a member of the United States military can face. People who are convicted of attempted murder generally face extremely serious penalties, including dishonorable discharge and imprisonment. For this reason, it is critical for anyone accused of attempted murder to retain a military attorney familiar with the Uniform Code of Military Justice1 (UCMJ) and defending military members accused of serious crimes. Three of the more common defenses an attorney may be able to raise in a military attempted murder case are detailed below. Alibi An alibi defense involves showing that the defendant was at another location at the time that the crime was committed. While this may seem like a relatively simple defense to asset, it […]

4 Questions To Ask a Military Criminal Defense Attorney

When military members are accused of a crime, the stakes are extremely high. For this reason, it is important for those facing a criminal case to retain the best attorney they can. Here are some questions to ask your lawyer in order to help you determine whether you lawyer will be able to adequately represent you. What is your background in military criminal defense? The body of law that applies to military criminal proceedings, the Uniform Code of Military Justice1 (UCMJ), is significantly different from the law that applies to the civilian population. In many cases, even experienced lawyers who have practiced for years in the civilian world may know little more about the UCMJ other than the fact that it exists. As a result, […]

3 Reasons Why You Should Immediately Call a Military Criminal Defense Attorney If You Are Accused of Sexual Assault

The United States Military pours limitless resources into allegations of sexual assault1. Whether or not these allegations are true, these kinds of cases tend to make the news and can cause a significant public relations issue for the Armed Forces. For this reason, these kinds of cases are often aggressively investigated and prosecuted, sometimes resulting in devastating consequences for innocent servicemen and women. For this reason, it is extremely important for anyone in the military accused of sexual assault to call an attorney immediately. Some of the ways a military defense lawyer can help you are detailed below. Reason #1.  An attorney will ensure that you do not or say anything to incriminate yourself When you are accused of sexual assault, you can be interrogated […]

4 Ways a Military Conviction Can Hurt Your Civilian Life

A conviction in a military court for a criminal offense can have a severe impact on your civilian life, not just your military career. A military conviction can make it difficult to obtain civilian employment A service member who is convicted of a crime will usually be discharged from the military, either as a punishment at the court-martial or as an administrative consequence afterward. Potential employers typically ask veterans about their characterization of service, and many employers run background checks, and a less then honorable discharge will usually hurt your chances of obtaining employment. A military conviction can hurt your reputation While military personnel records are generally considered private information, they are often accessible by the public through the Freedom of Information Act.1 In addition, […]