Military Attorney

A military attorney is a licensed attorney who has focused his or her career on representing members of the military and on addressing issues that arise under military law.

There are different types of military attorneys. An attorney who is a member of the military can be part of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, or JAG Corps, which is the legal branch of the military that is focused on military law..Civilian military attorneys, who are not members of the JAG Corps, have private legal practices as civilians and – one would hope – have focused their careers on military issues.

An active-duty attorney is informally referred to as a JAG, and the top attorney within each branch is called the Judge Advocate General.

JAGs provide a wide array of legal advice to commanders in addition to clientele. JAGs may provide legal counsel on environmental law matters, laws of war, and international relations, among other issues of interest. JAG officers can also serve as prosecutors and defense counsel.  Civilian military lawyers focus on criminal cases and typically do not engage in other areas of military law.

The military uses the court-marital process to prosecute members of the military for alleged violations of military criminal law. Military attorneys, including civilian military lawyers, must be familiar with the rules governing courts-martial proceedings, as these proceedings operate under a different body of rules than state or federal criminal courts.

A member of the military who is accused of wrongdoing must be provided with JAG defense counsel when faced with potential penalties for UCMJ violations but also has the right to hire a civilian military attorney.

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