If you are facing the prospect of prosecution under military law, you could be facing severe punishments with serious repercussions for your family - and possibly the end of your military career. The military law, courts martial and criminal defence lawyers at Qamar Solicitors are highly experienced in representing members of the Armed Forces who are facing investigation and prosecution under service law.
We appreciate how aggressively service law is employed, so we provide our clients with equally robust, strategic advice and representation to get the best possible outcome for service clients.
What’s the process?
The process of investigation and prosecution under service law differs little from the way civilian criminal offences are dealt with. Prosecution involves Courts Martial proceedings where the offence is serious.
Interview with Service Police
If you are arrested, the service police will interview you under caution. You will have the right to have a solicitor of your choice present at the interview. The interview must be conducted in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). PACE sets out your rights and what the police must and must not do to ensure the interview is fairly conducted.
How are offences dealt with?
This depends much on the seriousness of the offence:
Minor offences are dealt with by the Officer Commanding at a Summary Hearing (effectively a disciplinary hearing)
More serious offences are dealt with by your Commanding Officer at a Summary Hearing
Serious offences are dealt with by the Court Martial (a legal military hearing in the military court)
If you so choose, you have the right to elect for a Court Martial trial if you wish to have your case heard in a recognised court of law
The Court Martial is usually made up of a Judge Advocate and between 3-7 warrant officers and commissioned officers. You are entitled to have legal representation at Court Martial but not at Summary Hearings. However, you are advised to take legal advice before a Summary Hearing is conducted to give you the best chance of representing yourself.
Whatever the nature of the alleged offence, we will advise you on the possible range of punishment that may be imposed if you are found guilty.
What punishment may be given?
On conviction in a Summary Hearing, the Commanding Officer has limited powers of sentencing. The maximum sentence that can be imposed by a Commanding Officer is 90 days’ military detention.
The Court Martial can impose very similar penalties to those handed down in the civilian criminal courts. In addition, specific military punishments may be handed down, including:
Can I appeal?
If you disagree with the outcome of a Summary Hearing, you may appeal to the Summary Appeal Court. You can appeal the actual verdict, the sentence imposed – or both. Unlike at the Summary Hearing itself, you may have legal representation at the appeal. If you wish to appeal a Summary Hearing, our military law experts will advise you on your best chance of success at appeal, and how best to proceed.
How can we help?
The military and service law solicitors at Qamar Solicitors can advise you on all aspects of military law and represent you as far as we are permitted to in the investigation and prosecution to secure the best possible result for you. Contact us as early as possible in the investigation.