Charges Preferred Against You
If you are facing a court-martial, it is important that you take steps now to prepare your defense. Once an allegation is made against you, the government will start an investigation. While some cases are processed relatively quickly, others may drag on for months. Going through this process can be frustrating and overwhelming. There are, however, some things that you can do to help ease the experience and, at the same time, be proactive in preparing your defense.
1) Collect Available Evidence: You should immediately begin the process of collecting evidence that is within your control that may help your court-martial attorney. If your case involves financial records, you should contact your bank to obtain certified copies of the records that can help you. If emails, voicemails, text messages, tweets or any other social media information is important, you should take steps to either save this information by downloading it to an external hard drive or by taking screenshots.
2) Identify Possible Witnesses: You need to write down potential witnesses in your case. Your list should include any witness that was involved in the alleged incident, any witness that you expect will testify against you, and every witness that you believe may be helpful to your case. You will also want to list any witness who is able to testify about your character and duty performance or has known you long enough to testify about your honesty, values, law-abiding nature or your rehabilitation potential.
3) Don’t Talk to Anyone: You should not speak to anyone about your case. Military investigators and the prosecutor are likely speaking with everyone that you have contact with to determine if you have said anything to them about the allegations. Speaking to someone that you believe is a friend or a mentor will not be privileged. If a friend or mentor asks you about the allegations, you should simply respond that you have been instructed by your attorney to not speak about the allegations.
4) Tell your Court-Martial Attorney the Truth: You are the primary source of information that will help your court-martial attorney defend you. You need to provide truthful and accurate information to your defense attorney. There is absolutely no way that your defense attorney can competently and adequately represent you if you lie, withhold facts, or distort the truth. Information or evidence that may seem damaging and harmful to you may provide your defense attorney with a legal defense to the charges you stand accused of, or may provide an argument to suppress certain evidence.
5) Decide Who Will Represent You: You have the right to choose who will represent you in your court-martial. The Army will provide you with a detailed military defense counsel for free. When you speak with this counsel, determine if you feel comfortable with their approach to your case and their experience. If you do, then you can stick with your military counsel. If you decide that you would like to explore the possibility of hiring a civilian court-martial attorney to represent you, it will be important to do your research so that you can make an informed decision. There are a lot of civilian court-martial attorneys claiming to be the best civilian defense attorney or the most aggressive court-martial attorney. You need to look past these self-aggrandizing claims and educate yourself by researching the background of the civilian attorney you are considering hiring.
Mr. Coombs specializes in representing only Army soldiers. He will gladly speak with you about your case so that you can determine for yourself if he is the best civilian court-martial attorney for you.