General Court Martial Lawyer in Tacoma
Counsel through Serious Charges
A General Court Martial, or GCM, is the highest level military trial court. It is used to dispose of the most serious offenses. The Convening Authority is generally the Division or Corps Commander or service equivalent. As with a Special Court Martial, a GCM conviction can be considered a federal criminal conviction. The GCM process includes a lone military judge or no less than five officers with the judge. As with a Summary Court Marital, the accused individual has the right to choose the make up of their court martial.
A military judge or the panel of a GCM can impose up to the maximum authorized penalties allowed for the offense. These include:
- Forfeiting pay or allowance
- A decline to the lowest possible paid position
- Discharge for bad conduct
- Dishonorable discharge
- Dismissal from service
- Death, for the most serious offenses
In a panel case, confinement for more than 10 years can only be sentenced on the agreement of 3/4ths of all members present in the court martial. Death is only possible when all members agree to the sentence.
Before a GCM can occur, an Article 32 investigation is carried out to make sure there is grounds for the prosecution’s case. Article 32 investigations are presided over by an investigating officer (IO), who must be O4 or higher or have in-depth legal training. The Article 32 is somewhat akin to the civilian grand jury process, but unlike a grand jury, the accused is entitled to military defense counsel and/or retained Tacoma civilian counsel and has the chance to look over evidence, cross-examine any witnesses, and give their own evidence, arguments, and witnesses.
After the completion of the Article 32 investigation, the IO will make their recommendation to the convening authority through the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate (SJA). The SJA then makes a formal recommendation as to how the charges will be disposed, including whether the matter will need to go to court martial or if the charges can be dismissed. Please note that it is extremely rare for an IO to recommend that charges be dismissed or for a convening authority to totally dismiss charges after an Article 32 investigation.
Turn to The Law Offices of Krupa & Clark for Help
In some Jurisdictions, Regional Defense Counsel or Area Defense Counsel will not detail a GCM to a Defense Counsel (DC) until the DC has second chaired a number of GCMs and tried a number of SCMs. Accordingly, representation at a GCM should only be undertaken by highly experienced military or civilian criminal defense attorney in Tacoma. Steven Krupa has represented soldiers at GCM as detailed military counsel and retained civilian counsel. He has tried GCM cases to panels in Army and Navy courts. He is available for consultation by contacting our office.
Call our Tacoma military criminal defense lawyer at (253) 345-4506 to schedule a free initial case consultation.