If you have been arrested as a serviceman or service woman, call the military friendly lawyers at Austin Hagee Law Firm immediately, we know exactly how to handle your cases and your command.
Being arrested as a military serviceman or woman can be life-changing. You must act quickly and decisively while using an experienced criminal defense attorney at Austin Hagee Law Firm who knows how the military operates.
We have helped hundreds of servicemen and servicewomen move past their accusations with minimal consequences.
Once you are arrested as a member of the military, your first step should be to contact your command and inform them of the arrest.
Your command will know within a matter of days, if not hours, that an arrest has occurred, and it is your duty to report this arrest as soon as possible.
Do not be afraid of reporting the arrest, in fact, there are more severe consequences of not reporting the arrest.
Once your command has been notified, they will want to structure a meeting and go over the facts of the case. We need to advise you of what you should and should not divulge during this meeting.
Your command will issue a decision on the route for which they will take when distributing punishment. Typically, this does not include separation from the military if you adhere to our advice.
In most situations, the military and your command will separate the civilian side of the arrest/accusations from the military.
Meaning, they will let you handle the arrest on its own in the civilian world and based upon the result of your case, they will then determine appropriate actions to take.
What this means, is that you must choose a military friendly law firm to ensure you get the best possible result and do everything possible to win the case and keep a conviction off your record.
So long as you do not get convicted, as a serviceman or service woman, you stand a great chance of staying in the military and keeping your current position.
If you are a veteran, we are a veteran friendly law firm here to serve you. Call us today at 210-987-9703 if you have been arrested. Do not automatically apply for veterans court.
Steps to Take When Arrested in the Military
Bond Out of Jail
If you were arrested and placed in custody, the first thing to do is to find a way to secure your release.
In most cases, this will mean posting a bond. If your bail amount is too high, an experienced military criminal defense attorney may be able to help convince the judge that a lower bail amount is appropriate.
Remain Calm and Respectful
Military officials wield significant authority in our society. It is best that the report reflects that the individual was showing respect at the time of the arrest, even if it is believed the arrest is unjust.
Remember, your behavior at the time of arrest can impact future proceedings on the military side of things.
Right to Remain Silent
As with civilian law, in the military system, you have the right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination. Politely but firmly invoke this right if you choose not to speak without legal representation.
Avoid Written Statements
If asked to provide a statement or to sign any documentation, it is prudent to refrain until you’ve consulted with a military criminal defense lawyer.
A hastily drafted statement can be misconstrued or used against you.
Call Austin Hagee Law Firm and Retain a Military and Veteran Friendly Lawyer
Your criminal defense attorney will have your best interests in mind on the civilian and military side of things. Trust their experience and follow the advice they provide.
By handling things properly on the civilian side, you can often avoid official proceedings ever initiating on the military side.
Comply with the Search Protocol
If military police or authorities wish to search your person, belongings, or living quarters, remain cooperative.
However, it’s important to note whether they have proper authorization or probable cause at the time of the search.
After this point, you’ll also want to do the following:
- Report the arrest to your Command (They will know about the arrest)
- Schedule a Sit-Down Meeting with your Command to discuss the facts
- Adhere to any Orders from the Command’s Initial Decisions (Initial Orders/Punishments are typically very minimal)
- Fight the case with an Attorney to get the best possible result
- End of case meeting or update with Command
- Move past this arrest and live your life
Beyond retaining a military criminal defense attorney, consider seeking emotional and psychological support. Friends, family, or military support services can be beneficial.
Military law, like civilian law, can change. Ensure you and your military criminal defense lawyer are updated on any changes affecting your case.
While every situation is unique, following these steps can help ensure you navigate the complexities of military criminal defense with the best possible chance of a favorable outcome.
If you are in such a situation, prioritize securing competent legal counsel.
Criminal Defense Considerations for Service Members
Navigating the criminal justice system is a complex process for anyone, but active-duty military personnel and veterans face unique challenges and considerations.
Offenses that might be considered minor in civilian life can have far-reaching consequences for service members and veterans.
Moreover, legal proceedings can occur both in military court and civilian court, sometimes for the same offense.
Veterans, especially those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries, or other service-related conditions, may find that their mental state at the time of the alleged offense affects their options through the legal process.
Courts are becoming increasingly aware of “Veterans Treatment Courts,” designed to handle cases where service-related conditions may have contributed to criminal behavior.
These courts have special resources to treat mental illness, substance abuse, and to help former service members avoid recidivism.
The collateral consequences of a criminal conviction can also extend to VA benefits, job opportunities, and social stigma.
Therefore, active-duty members and veterans accused of criminal offenses should seek legal advice from military criminal defense lawyers, who can tailor a defense to the service member’s specific circumstances.
Whether in civilian or military court, or both, a comprehensive defense strategy needs to consider all these unique factors.
If you are a veteran and have been arrested, you might have heard about veterans court programs available in certain counties.
Do not automatically apply for these programs as certain programs can still result in a conviction and permanent stain on your record.
You must consult an experienced veteran attorney to understand all the implications associated with a veteran court program and the particular track that you have been offered.
Often, at Austin Hagee Law Firm, we use the veterans court program only in circumstances where our client needs specialized care or has not received favorable options in the original trial court.
Typically, we can fight the cases on their merits and achieve far superior results and wins for our veteran clients without ever subjecting our clients to the extremely rigorous veterans court programs.
Depending on the county, veterans court is often an extremely rigorous program designed with weekly reporting and even program meetings on multiple days in a week.
The intensity of these programs can cause a lot of stress on participants who are trying to work and participate in the program.
For these reasons, we always work with our clients to tailor the best approach for their unique situation.
On top of the meeting schedule, you will be required to attend classes, perform community service, perform urine analysis tests, and essentially place you on an extremely strict zero-tolerance regimen often likened to parole or felony probation.
Even if you comply with everything the program demands, you could still wind up with a conviction on your record that will be there forever.
Therefore, we only use veterans court as a last resort. However, we do recognize that some individuals can do well in these programs so we take the time to analyze what is best for each veteran client.
Defending Veterans and Active-Duty Service Members Charged with Serious Crimes
Service members are expected to adhere to a strict set of rules and guidelines that govern their behavior both in and out of active duty.
Just like civilians, they can potentially be involved in a range of criminal activities, but their actions might also fall under the unique jurisdiction of the military justice system or court-martial.
Sexual Assault and Harassment
Unfortunately, like in civilian settings, service members might be involved in accusations of sexual assault and harassment.
Drug and Alcohol-Related Crimes
Substance abuse-related crimes such as DWI, possession, or distribution of illicit drugs are also seen within the military sphere.
Often, these offenses are the result of undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues stemming from events that occurred during active duty.
In today’s society, these issues are taken extremely seriously due to the surge of veterans that struggle with substance abuse problems.
Fraud and Financial Crimes
These might include crimes such as housing allowance fraud, writing a hot check, or other theft offenses.
Domestic Violence Charges
Service members, especially those suffering from PTSD or other emotional wounds, may struggle to maintain healthy relationships. Unfortunately, this can lead to allegations of domestic violence and assault.
Service members can also be involved in civilian crimes like robbery, aggravated assault, manslaughter, and burglary.
Retaining the assistance of a seasoned criminal defense attorney is pivotal in these scenarios to safeguard your rights while ensuring a fair and just trial in accordance with the law.
What Are the Potential Consequences of a Criminal Conviction for Active-Duty Service Members?
For an active-duty service member, a criminal conviction can have dire and far-reaching consequences, affecting their professional trajectory as well as their personal life.
While the stakes of every case are different, let’s look at some potential collateral consequences of a criminal conviction for active-duty service members.
Convicted service members may face demotion, loss of security clearance, or even a dishonorable discharge from the military.
These consequences could negatively impact a service member’s military career and future employment prospects drastically.
Fines and Restitutions
Convictions often come with hefty fines or the requirement to make financial restitution. This can create a significant financial burden on service members and their immediate family members.
Loss of Benefits
Convicted service members can lose essential benefits, including pension, healthcare, and GI Bill educational benefits. These repercussions can have a long-lasting negative impact on their family’s well-being.
A criminal conviction can cause long-term damage to one’s reputation, affecting personal relationships and how they are seen in the community.
The impact of a dishonorable discharge coupled with a criminal conviction can be hard for most people to overcome.
Depending on the nature of the crime and result, service members might also face civil lawsuits, which can result in additional penalties and damages.
Limitations on Future Rights and Freedoms
Certain convictions can limit one’s rights and freedoms, including the loss of the right to bear arms, vote, or travel to certain places.
Psychological and Emotional Impact
Facing a criminal conviction can also have substantial psychological and emotional repercussions, including stress, anxiety, and depression.
Given these severe consequences, it is essential for active-duty service members facing criminal charges to seek an attorney who is familiar with the stakes of their unique situation and how to defend against any criminal allegation.
If You’ve Been Arrested, the Military Criminal Defense Attorneys at the Austin Hagee Law Firm Have Your Back
If you are a service member and were recently arrested for a crime, the Austin Hagee Law Firm is here to help.
Our military criminal defense lawyers in San Antonio have extensive experience working with current and former service members, defending their rights, freedom, and future at every stage of the process.
We provide free consultations to all prospective clients, during which we will answer your questions, explain the criminal trial process, and discuss what we can do to help.
Over the years, we’ve secured hundreds of dismissals on behalf of our clients through our diligent and aggressive representation.
We would love to fight for you or your family member. To schedule a free consultation today, call Austin Hagee Law Firm at 210-987-9703.
You can also connect with us through our online contact form.