Article 32 Preliminary Hearings
What is an Article 32 Preliminary Hearing?
An Article 32 Preliminary Hearing is conducted by an impartial preliminary hearing officer (judge advocate) who is responsible for examining all charges preferred against an accused before the case is referred to a general court-martial.
Before a charge can be referred to a General Court-Martial, the government must present all available evidence to an impartial Investigating Officer (IO). The purpose of an Article 32 Preliminary Hearing is to conduct a “Pretrial Preliminary Hearing” (pre Courts-Martial hearing) to inquire into the facts and substance of the accusation(s) set forth in the charges; to consider the form of the charges; and to determine what disposition should be made of the case in the interest of both justice and discipline.
Article 32 Preliminary Hearings Offer Powerful Opportunity for the Accused
An accused has the right to be present and participate in the Article 32 Investigation hearing. The Article 32 hearing provides the accused and his or her attorney(s) a powerful opportunity to review the government’s evidence and to even present evidence in defense to the charges. The accused and defense counsel are informed of the charges, the details of the investigation, witness statements, and have the opportunity, if desired, to cross-examine witnesses and present evidence on the accused’s behalf.
An accused has the right to be present and participate in the Article 32 Preliminary Hearing hearing. The Article 32 hearing provides the accused and his or her attorney(s) a powerful opportunity to review the government’s evidence and to even present evidence in defense to the charges. The accused and defense counsel are informed of the charges, the details of the Preliminary Hearing, witness statements, and have the opportunity, if desired, to cross-examine witnesses and present evidence on the accused’s behalf.
What this means is that the Article 32 hearing is an excellent opportunity for the accused and defense team to learn the strengths and weaknesses of the government’s case. Moreover, the accused and defense counsel have a window of opportunity to present facts and evidence, when appropriate, and to attempt to persuade the Investigating Officer (IO) to recommend to the convening authority that some or all of the charges be dismissed, reduced to a lesser offense, and/or that the charges be referred to either a Special Court-Martial, Summary-Court Martial, or an Article 15 NJP/Captain’s Mast.
The Accused can Defend Against Charges at the Article 32 Stage
An Article 32 Preliminary Hearing is one of the most important steps in the entire process of fighting charges brought by one’s command. In some cases. an Article 32 Preliminary Hearing could be more important than the actual Court-Martial trial itself – especially if the defense can persuade the convening authority that the charges should be dismissed, reduced and/or taken to a lower forum.
It is critical to have a highly experienced military criminal defense attorney involved in your case early on. Although you will be appointed a detailed military attorney to your case at no expense to you, it is in your best interests to retain a Civilian Attorney who has the knowledge and experience that your detailed military counsel does not have. Many military attorneys have little experience in defending a contested court-martial. Even if they do have some trial experience, they may not have trial experience involving the offense you have been charged with. One thing is for sure, a detailed defense counsel is not going to have 20 plus years of military law experience.
That’s why a Civilian Defense Attorney with the knowledge and experience in military law will always be better prepared to defend you; may be afforded opportunities to build some worthwhile personal connections on your behalf, and work all the avenues afforded the accused during the Article 32 process – but only if you become proactive as soon as possible. You simply cannot risk your military career and freedom on a defense counsel with little experience and lacking thorough knowledge of all available military procedures that are intended to protect your rights.
What Does an Article 32 Preliminary Hearing and Hearing Offer the Accused?
- To Be Informed Of The Actual Charges Under Preliminary Hearing
- To Be Informed Of The Purpose Of The Preliminary Hearing
- To Be Informed Of The Identity Of The Accuser(s)
- To Be Informed Of The Identity Of Any Witness(es)
- To Be Able To Cross-Examine Witnesses
- To Be Informed Of Any Other Evidence
- To Be Present During The Vetting Of Evidence
- To Be Represented By Counsel Of Your Choice
- To Be Informed Of The Right Against Self-Incrimination
- To Be Able To Present Anything In Your Defense
- To Make Any Statements That May Help In Your Defense
Consider a Civilian Military Attorney For Your Article 32 Preliminary Hearing
Military Law Center has the experience of decades of actual military law practice, having been a JAG officer and, later in his career, a supervisor-officer over entire teams of JAG lawyers and staff.
Military Law Center has the skills and hands-on experience to aggressively investigate all of the allegations against you, including the government’s charges, its core evidence, witness statements, and can conduct a thorough review of all the facts during the Article 32 Preliminary Hearing and hearing.
The Government Has you “Nailed!” – Has a Rock-Solid Case?
Should the government’s case be rock-solid, the Article 32 Preliminary Hearing still offers the accused a unique and important opportunity to compile, and challenge the government’s evidence for use at the eventual Court-Martial and also to present any compelling or mitigating evidence during the Article 32 hearing in an attempt to reduce any upcoming charges which can often lessen the eventual penalties and punishment. Your best defense and best chance for a successful outcome is to secure the best possible Civilian Military Defense Attorney at the outset of any accusations or pending charges.
The servicemember’s right to this pretrial Preliminary Hearing is very important. There is significant opportunity for the defense to discover evidence and to get a preview of key evidence the government may have against you and to hear actual witnesses testimony.
More importantly, an Article 32 Preliminary Hearing determines whether charges will be dismissed or proceed to a Courts-Martial or Administrative Separations Board.
The Accused Opportunity To Demonstrate a Willingness to Fight Back
Keep in mind that it it is not all that unusual that an Article 32 “Pretrial Preliminary Hearing” can actually result in charges being dismissed for lack of evidence to proceed or lack of enthusiasm on the command’s part when they are informed of the accused defense team and the fight they might be facing. In the civilian world this happens every day. A defendant represented by an overworked public defender will be vigorously prosecuted by the DA’s Office – but if the defendant hires a well-know, highly-respected defense attorney known for winning cases, the DA’s office will very often offer a back-channel compromise that means that no one never sees the inside of a courtroom. Prosecutors hate to have their “winning record” diluted with losses at trial.
Facing an Article 32 Investigation?
Make sure that you get the right help from a Civilian Military Attorney, in San Diego or Worldwide, built to support your needs. Military Law Center Is Ready to Help You – Right Now. Military Law Center will aggressively advise and defend you – Know Your Military Legal Rights.