First civilian criminal defense team to land in Baghdad in 2005 to defend US soldier of premeditated murder of Iraqi detainee.
Geoffrey G. Nathan Law Offices was co-counsel in some of the most difficult war crimes cases arising out of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan which cases were prosecuted by the United States of America against United States soldiers for unlawful killing/execution of civilians and combat enemy detainees. The names of the cases are the Kill Company, Stryker brigade, Iron Triangle, the Killings at the Canal.
Cpl. Jeremy Morlock with Staff Sgt. David Bram pictured above. (Image/Article Source)
When a person serves in the US military, he or she must abide by special military rules, which are known as martial law. This is a strict code of conduct that has to be followed by everyone in the military at all levels. If you fail to stick to martial law, you will be charged with a military crime. Once you have been so charged, you must appear in a court martial trial, or face charges in military court.
Your military career can be put in jeopardy if you are accused of committing a serious military or civilian crime. In the case of a military crime, know that the military justice system is very different from civilian criminal court. Chances of being convicted are high.
The military will typically appoint an inexperienced military attorney to represent you. It is highly recommended to hire an experienced military criminal defense attorney.
In the military criminal trial process, there are three types of court martial:
- Summary court martial: This type usually involves minor military crimes, and punishments are determined based upon your pay grade. A single officer is the prosecutor and defense. If you are an E-4 or below, punishment may consist of 30 days in military jail/confinement, lower pay and a 60 day restriction period.
- Special court martial:This type handles more serious military crimes and has a three officer jury, defense attorney, prosecutor and military judge. You may opt for trial by judge if you wish.
- General court martial: This is for the most severe military crimes, including bad conduct discharge, dishonorable discharge, and occasionally the death sentence. Before a military crime case reaches this point, a strict protocol must be followed, including investigation before trial. You also may appoint a civilian attorney at your expense.
In all forms of court martial, you have the right to have a defense attorney from your military branch, and you have the right to defend yourself against any charges and try to avoid penalties. You also have the right to appeal a judgement made against you.
There have been a greater number of military members in recent years being charged for sex crimes, such as rape and sexual assault. Those types of criminal cases usually hinge on the issue of consent. You need a strong attorney fighting for you in these cases.
Also, a military member can be charged with a crime in civilian court, and there can be very harsh consequences as well. Civilian criminal charges can have an adverse effect on your military career and can lead to an administrative discharge and sometimes a court martial. Civilian charges also can carry long prison terms and other restrictions that have a serious effect on the health of your military career.
For example, if you are convicted of a domestic violence crime in civil court, due to the Lautenberg Amendment, you may not own or possess a firearm for a certain time period. Unless you have an experienced and skilled attorney working for you, this can cause you to be administratively discharged from the US military.
Another serious situation with civilian crimes involves DUI and drug offenses. A conviction for DUI usually will cause a letter of reprimand to be placed in your file. A drug offense usually will cause you to be separated from the military. In both cases, it is very important to have a strong military criminal defense lawyer working for you.
About the Attorney
Geoffrey G. Nathan was co-counsel in some of the most difficult war crimes cases arising out of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The cases were prosecuted by the United States of America against United States soldiers for unlawful killing/execution of civilians and combat enemy detainees. The names of the cases are the Kill Company, Stryker brigade, Iron Triangle, the Killings at the Canal.