Defending Servicemembers Stationed at Fort Carson and Colorado Springs Air Force Bases

Colorado Springs is home to tens of thousands of military service members and their families. Fort Carson provides a large Army presence in the area while Peterson, Cheyenne Mountain, and Schriever Air Force Bases and the Air Force Academy keep the Airmen population thriving. Because the military has its own justice system and laws that service members must abide by — the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) — many people (legal teams and servicemembers and their families alike) just assume that the resources used in their trials are limited to what is issued. This could not be further from the truth!

According to military justice, every person has the right to provide a defense, even for a simple counseling statement or Article 15. When Soldiers and Airmen face charges on post/ base or are accused of a crime that breeches state or federal jurisdiction, their legal defense should not be left to the overwhelmed military lawyers. Additionally, when civilians are charged with violating a law on post/ base, civilian lawyers may not have a full understanding of how to defend their clients in this unique situation. This is where the legal expertise of the criminal defense attorneys at Murphy and Price, LLP makes all the difference.


military_ipimage2Every year, the United States Armed Forces fills its ranks with service members who serve with pride and distinction. Those who enlist in the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, or Coast Guard must follow the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). If an enlisted member, officer, or Special Operations member violates the UCMJ or a direct order, he or she will face disciplinary action from his or her superiors.

However, much like the civilian legal system, the kind of discipline an individual can face varies widely depending on the crime or act committed.

If a less serious crime is committed, it’s usually handled through a non-judicial process such as an Article 15 hearing, captain’s mast, or office hours. But if a more serious crime is committed, such as assault, rape, or murder, the accused will typically be tried in a court-martial process and be provided with a free military lawyer.

If you’re a member of the military, you’ve spent your life protecting your country and defending freedom. In turn, you deserve an attorney who will aggressively defend your freedom should you be charged with a crime. Contact the Law Office of Warren D. Price. With more than 40 years of combined experience, Attorney Price and his staff are uniquely qualified to represent you.

Attorney Price spent years as a defense lawyer and ultimately chose to practice in criminal defense due to a strongly held belief in fair representation for all. Additionally, he trained extensively under a former JAG attorney with extensive experience in trying military court-martial cases. As a result, Attorney Price learned a great deal about the details of the UCMJ and collateral consequences for members of the armed forces.

An attorney for Military in Colorado Springs

Every year, the United States Armed Forces fills its ranks with service members who serve with pride and distinction. Those who enlist in the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, or Coast Guard must follow the military law as set forth by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) in addition to civilian law. If an enlisted member, officer, or warrant officer violates the UCMJ or a direct order, he or she will face disciplinary action from his or her superiors.

However, much like the civilian legal system, the kind of discipline an individual can face varies widely depending on the crime or act that the service member is charged with.

Article 15

If the service member is alleged to have committed a crime, it can be handled through a non-judicial process such as an Article 15 hearing, captain’s mast, or office hours. There are three types of Article 15s that can be given, and it is up to the individual service member to accept or decline the Article 15. Many military members understand the acceptance of an Article 15 to be an admission of guilt. However, accepting an article 15 simply means that you are accepting the process and granting your commander the ability to act as the judge and jury and offer a sentence. In this case, your commander will determine your guilt and hand out the punishment. By declining an Article 15, you are requesting the matter be taken to a court-martial . If you accept an Article 15 and disagree with your commander’s decision, you can still request it to be taken to a court-martial.

Military Court Martial

If a serious crime is committed, such as assault, rape, or murder, the accused will typically not be served with an Article 15, and instead, will be tried in a court-martial process and be provided with a free military lawyer or may choose to hire a civilian lawyer who specializes in military law. If a member of the military is charged with a crime, off post, by civilian authorities, they may be facing charges in both judicial systems.

Why You Need an Attorney with Military Law Experience on Your Side

If you’re a member of the military, you’ve spent your life protecting your country and defending freedom. In turn, you deserve an attorney who will aggressively defend your freedom should you be charged with a crime, whether it is a military court martial, a criminal civilian case or a federal case. While you are afforded a free military lawyer to defend you, you deserve one who is invested in your case. Contact the Law Office of Warren D. Price. With more than 40 years of combined experience, Attorney Price and his staff are uniquely qualified to represent you.

Attorney Price spent years as a defense lawyer and ultimately chose to practice in criminal defense due to a strongly held belief in fair representation for all. Additionally, he trained extensively under a former JAG attorney with extensive experience in trying military court martial cases. As a result, Attorney Price learned a great deal about the details of the UCMJ and collateral consequences for members of the armed forces.

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Counseling Statements, Article 15, Court Martials, & Your Rights

Since the day you raised your right hand and swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, you have probably also been told that you are now the property of the United States government and forfeited all your rights when you signed your military service contract. While you did sign away some privileges, you did not waive any of your rights. The jurisdiction and legal system you fall under has not changed, but the way you are prosecuted and the punishments have. Many service members are under the assumption that when they receive a written reprimand, either on a DA Form 4856 or on an Article 15, that they are subject to whatever is written by their superior. However, even as stated in the regulations that govern these documents — ATP 6-22.1 (2014) and AR 27-10 (2016) — you have the right to contact outside support agencies, including lawyers.

For the majority of service members, a DA Form 4856 (Counseling Statement) is nothing more than a written trail of warnings from their leadership. However, these can be used to build a case or establish a pattern of behavior that leads to more severe action taken. Oftentimes leadership will backdate these forms or have varying levels of leadership counsel you about the same perceived infraction. These negative counseling statements can have a dramatic negative impact on your evaluations, promotability, reenlistment status, result in flags and even lead to Article 15 or discharge from the service. Article 15 and military court-martial are the military service’s version of legal action. In either case, you will be told that you may have a JAG lawyer assigned to your case. But, did you know that you can seek your own legal counsel to represent you?

Murphy and Price, LLP Can Help

You, like many of your brothers and sisters in arms, may think that you are limited to your unit’s JAG officer to cover your case. But, you are able to hire whatever lawyer you deem appropriate. At the Law Offices of Murphy and Price, we have decades’ worth of experience handling state and federal cases for service members, including Uniformed Code of Military Justice and court-martials. We can represent you if you fall into any of these categories:

  • Military service member facing military charges
  • Military service member facing federal charges
  • Military service member facing civilian criminal charges
  • Military service member facing dual sovereignty
  • Military appeals from court-martial convictions

Accepting a punishment under UCMJ may not seem like a big deal at the time, but it can impact your military career and civilian life forever. Before accepting the punishment, contact Murphy and Price, LLP for the legal representation you deserve.

If you are facing military action, state or federal charges, or dual sovereignty for any of these offenses, contact us for your consultation:

Fort Carson Docket Cases: Lawyer for Military Members Charged in Civilian Court

It is important to remember that even if the charges are dropped in one court, you may find yourself being charged in the other, or both. For instance, if you are charged with a DUI in civilian court, you may also face military charges of “disorderly conduct” or “conduct unbecoming.” While the Fifth Amendment protects citizens from being tried for the same crime twice, since federal/state law and UCMJ are distinctly different, you may be tried in both courts or tried in military court even when you have been acquitted in civilian court. If you are a military member who has been charged with a crime, the government will provide you with a free military lawyer to represent you, similar to a civilian public defender. You may be thinking, why do I need to hire a lawyer if one is afforded to me at no cost? The answer will vary for each case and will depend on the charges and potential consequences.

Additional Defense

If you hire a civilian attorney to represent you, there is no reason that you have to “fire” your appointed military lawyer. The two can work together to build a solid defense for your case. This puts additional experience on your case as well as affords you the time of two lawyers working on your defense.

Experience

Experience matters when your career and livelihood is on the line! While not all JAG lawyers are new to their field, it is true that military lawyers can commission into the JAG corps right out of law school, and sometimes even before graduation. While this does not mean that they are lower quality, it means that they do not have the experience of a seasoned attorney and you do not want them learning on your case. When you hire a civilian attorney, such as Murphy & Price, LLP, you get nearly 40 years of experience on your side.

Time Constraints

Like any public defender, an appointed military lawyer will have a very large caseload. This means that their time is spread pretty thin and will not be dedicated to your case. When you hire a civilian lawyer, they only take on as many cases as they can handle while providing the best defense.

No Chain of Command

One of the major benefits of hiring a civilian attorney in lieu of or in addition to your government issued lawyer is that they do not have a chain of command to report to. Your chain of command cannot attempt to influence your lawyer, but it is much easier for a civilian attorney to call out high ranking officials without fear of reprisal. There is also no inside influence to keep certain aspects of the case out of the courtroom or use chain of command as a smokescreen. An outsider’s perspective can oftentimes offer some of the best defense.

When you are trying to make the decision of whether or not you need the defense of a civilian attorney, make sure that they are familiar with military law, UCMJ, and that they have experience working with military service members. If you need a lawyer for military members in Colorado Springs, contact the law office of Murphy & Price for your obligation-free consultation.

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Article 15 Process

An Article 15 is an administrative discipline that commanders can use for alleged violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). However, as discussed above, you have the option whether or not to accept the Article 15. If you choose to accept it, you are authorizing your commander to be the judge and jury of your case and to hand out whatever punishment he sees fit —within the authority granted under the Article 15 guidelines. If you are issued an Article 15, your commander will present you with the charges and afford you the opportunity to accept or decline it, and you have 48 hours to do so, so do not feel rushed to make a decision at the time of presentation. Even if you do accept, once the commander’s decision is read, you still have the right to appeal the decision by requesting a court-martial.

Determination of Guilt

An Army commander is explicitly required to presume that you are innocent unless or until they have evidence that proves guilt, “beyond a reasonable doubt,” such as would be the case in a court-martial. The Air Force has the same standards, but it is not explicitly stated. Your commander, and others in your chain of command, have had time to process the information, examine the evidence, and make a decision long before they present the Article 15 to you. This means that, if you were to challenge it, you have not had the time to prepare a defense for yourself, making the conviction rate on accepted Article 15s alarmingly high.

Types of Article 15

There are three types of Article 15s that can be issued. Each is issued based on the severity of the alleged offense and the punishment that your chain of command is seeking.

Summarized
Any company grade commander may administer a summarized Article 15 and you are not entitled to consult with a defense attorney. These Article 15s are typically issued for minor infractions and do not have a great effect on your career or pay. The commander who issues the summarized Article 15 can implement a combination of extra duty for 14 days, restriction for 14 days, and oral reprimand or admonition.

Company Grade
Any company grade commander can administer a company grade Article 15. Because these Article 15s have the potential to negatively impact your career, you are entitled to consult with an attorney. The maximum punishment can contain any combination of the following: up to 14 days of extra duty, up to 14 days restriction, oral reprimand or admonition, forfeiture of seven days base pay, and reduction of one pay-grade (E-4 and below only).

Field Grade
A commander in the rank of Major or above can issue a field grade Article 15, which is the most serious of all the Article 15s. Because this Article 15 has the potential to cause serious negative impacts on your career and livelihood, you are entitled to consult with an attorney. The punishment that can be inflicted may be any combination of extra duty for up to 45 days, restriction for up to 60 days (unless combined with extra duty, then this is limited to 45 days), oral reprimand or admonition, forfeiture of one-half base pay per month for up to two months, and reduction in pay grade to E-1 (for E-4 and below) or reduction in rank of one pay grade (E-5 and E-6 only).

Effects of an Article 15

If you are facing extra duty for a minor infraction, you may opt to take the punishment and correct your actions in the future. However, some Article 15s have the potential of drastically affecting your career. For instance, if you are being accused of fraternization (Article 134 in violation of AR 600-20), you may not be eligible for promotion or eligible for certain positions for the duration of your career, which is much more devastating than other effects of accepting an Article 15 — loss of pay, reduction in rank, extra-duty.

Many service members feel pressured to accept an Article 15 to keep it “in-house” and avoid harsher consequences if found guilty, such as jail time or a dishonorable discharge, which are both potential outcomes of a guilty verdict in a court-martial. Although an Article 15 is purely administrative, it is kept in your permanent record and filed in your Official Military Personnel File for the duration of your career. Many civilian employers ask about Article 15s, and having one may hinder employment after the military. For these reasons, it may be in your best interest to decline the Article 15 and request a court-martial.

Article 15 Lawyers

Whether you accept your Article 15 or you turn it down, you deserve a lawyer who will fight on your behalf through the entire process. If you accept the Article 15, it is important that you contact us before you sign the acceptance so we can begin your case, as the timeframe for working your defense is much shorter. If you decline your Article 15, contacting us as soon as possible will allow us to prepare the best defense for you while the military prepares to bring formal charges against you. Whatever you choose, contact the law firm in Colorado Springs that has experience working with service members — Murphy & Price, LLP.


If you have questions, or you’d like to schedule a free initial legal consultation, contact us today.


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