Despite popular belief, many of the constitutional rights that apply at a civilian criminal prosecution apply equally to a court-martial prosecution.
An accused at a court-martial is presumed innocent. Further, the burden of proof is on the government, i.e., the prosecution. The burden never shifts to an accused.
In order for an accused to be convicted, the prosecution’s evidence must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
An accused can take the stand and testify on their own behalf, subject to cross-examination by the prosecutor. Conversely, an accused has an absolute right to remain silent. An accused’s silence at a court-martial cannot be held against them in any way by the judge or jury. To learn more about an accused’s right to remain silent, visit our page on Article 31.
An accused has a constitutional right to have an attorney at a court-martial (subject to very limited exceptions). Further, an accused has a right to be represented by counsel of their choice at their expense. In other words, if you can afford it, you can have any attorney you want representing you.
The above list is by no means exhaustive. Many other constitutional rights apply as well, such as rights pertaining to warrantless searches and coerced confessions. The important thing is to have counsel who can navigate these issues.
If you are or may be facing prosecution by the military, make sure you have an attorney who is well-versed in the UCMJ and court-martial defense. As a former area defense counsel and senior (circuit) defense counsel in the Air Force, Ross Brennan at Cronauer Law is a seasoned advocate in military court rooms.
Don’t risk the consequences of inexperienced counsel. Contact Cronauer Law today.