What Decisions Need to be Made by the Defendant Facing a Court-Martial?
The military accused has four primary choices to make during the Court-martial process, which should be discussed with their attorney.
The Right to an AttorneyAnyone undergoing a Court-martial has the right to a uniformed attorney free of charge, to be provided by the military. Defendants can decide to accept this attorney or personally hire a civilian attorney alternative. It’s possible to do both.
It’s important to pick someone you feel comfortable with who you think can provide the best service. It’s recommended that when choosing an attorney to represent you, you look to someone with extensive experience in military law. In other words, a private attorney, inexperienced in military law, will not necessarily be a better choice than the free attorney provided by the military.
The Right to Plead Guilty or Not GuiltyThis decision is entirely up to the military accused. They can seek guidance from their attorney, who will inform them of their opinion based on the evidence available, but it is ultimately the defendant’s choice. Defendants are told to plead not guilty if they believe themselves to be not guilty under a moral obligation. Sometimes there may be some upside to pleading guilty. To plead guilty, the uniformed defendant must be sworn in and testify to persuade the judge of their guilty plea.
By pleading guilty, the military defendant would give up their constitutional right to a trial by his or her peers, and, most notably, relieve the prosecution from proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
There are a lot of things to take into consideration up when deciding on your plea. An attorney will help the accused come to an informed decision.