Article 32 preliminary hearings in Korea

service members accused of a crime face an even tougher battle under the new laws

The new changes to the Article 32 preliminary hearing is just another example of the slow and steady dismantling of the rights of accused service members. Early 2015 saw yet another essential tool in the defense’s arsenal get stripped of its utility by the prosecutorial allies of the government. What was once an effective means of discovery into the prosecution’s case has become what some would call a mere formality worth skipping over.

Bilecki & Tipon may not be fans of the new Article 32 preliminary hearings, but that hasn’t stopped us from diligently preparing for them. We’ve known about these changes for some time now and understand their implications to our client’s cases. And while these rules may delay our discovery of key facts about the prosecution’s case, it never hides those facts forever.

At the same time, we also know that there can be strategic and tactical reasons for waiving the Article 32, and that such a decision cannot be made unless and until a thorough defense investigation has been initiated.

Changes to the Article 32 Preliminary Hearing: the breakdown

Before 2015, Article 32 investigations had a few striking differences when compared to their civilian counterparts. The most important of these differences had to do with how the preliminary hearing was conducted. Before, an Article 32 investigation acted almost like a mini-trial before the actual court martial proceedings began. The defense had a chance to call the alleged victim to the stand to learn more about the prosecution’s case. Both sides could cross-examine witnesses and admit evidence. In some cases, the defense could obtain a favorable recommendation as to disposition from the Article 32 Investigating Officer and the case would not proceed to trial.

Today, the Article 32 preliminary hearing is much more in line with the civilian preliminary hearing. These preliminary hearings have a single purpose, and that’s to determine whether there is probable cause that the accused committed the crime. Furthermore, victims of an accused crime can deny the defense’s request to take the stand in a preliminary trial, thus blinding the defense to a key part of the prosecution’s strategy. Meanwhile, the have the ability to listen in to the entire proceeding with their military appointed attorney. Giving them key insight into the defense case.

Strategy is now more imortant than ever in determining to attend or waive the article 32

Anyone who believes that preliminary hearings are formalities worth ignoring is fooling themselves and their clients. Bilecki & Tipon understands that these proceedings are still full of opportunities and are worth exploring. The more chances we have at discovering the prosecution’s strategy, the likelier it is we can gain the upper hand in court.

However, doing so involves risk, as the government also has an opportunity to learn about the defense’s case and understand the weaknesses of their trial. Attending or waiving an Article 32 is a very complex strategic decision that cannot be taken lightly and must be made in conjunction with the defense investigation and ultimate trial strategy.

If you’re facing tough charges and you need an experienced law firm that takes every aspect of your case seriously, then you need to contact Bilecki & Tipon TODAY at (800) 996-9747.