WHAT YOU'RE UP AGAINST: THE COURT MARTIAL PROCESS IN KOREA

UNDERESTIMATING THE GOVERNMENT'S DESIRE TO CONVICT YOU IS THE FASTEST WAYS TO LOSE YOUR CASE

You’ve been accused of a crime by the military and now you’re looking for answers. What are the odds that I’ll get out of this unscathed? Who still has my back and who can I count on? How much evidence does the military really have on me? But the single most important question you should be asking yourself now is this: What, exactly, am I up against?

Unfortunately, you’re up against a very driven and focused opponent. You’re up against experienced and well-trained prosecutors with limitless resources and forensic experts at their disposal. You’re up against law enforcement agents that aren’t beneath overlooking evidence that may have exonerated you. You are, essentially, up against a 90% military conviction rate.

This page isn’t meant to scare you or make you think your case is hopeless. It’s meant to help you reassess what you’ve been thinking since all of this happened: that you can’t be convicted, that there’s no way they have enough evidence to convince a jury, and that this whole thing is going to disappear on its own. The reality is far, far different, and the sooner you realize this, the sooner you can hire a capable court martial defense attorney to start planning for the fight ahead.

YOU'RE UP AGAINST SOME OF THE MOST EXPERIENCED PROSECUTORS IN THE U.S. MILITARY

If you think your case is too low profile to merit an experienced prosecutor, think again. The government loves sending its most effective trial attorneys to handle everything from sexual assault cases to larceny and drug trafficking charges. Especially in the case of sexual assault, there’s an immense amount of pressure from the top of the chain of command to find and convict service members accused of these crimes. By the time you realize that the JAG Corp’s equivalent of a military tier-one team trying to put you behind bars, it’s too late to do anything about it.

This is unfortunately only half of your worries. While the government is busy adding their best and brightest prosecutors to convict you, they’re often detailing their least qualified defense counsels to defend you in court. You could end up with a novice defense counsel that may have tried half a dozen cases to verdict, IF that. A situation like this puts you at such a disadvantage that you’re all but forced to plead guilty in a bid to slightly reduce your charges.

THINK ONE PROSECUTOR IS BAD? TRY TWO, PLUS AN ARMY OF LEGAL SUPPORT

Don’t be surprised if you see not one, but two or even THREE highly-trained prosecutors working your case at the same time. These court martial lawyers often work together on your case from day one, ensuring that nothing about your case is overlooked, and no piece of evidence underutilized. Is it overkill? Probably, but the government believes that the faster they convict you, the faster they can use you as a scapegoat to dissuade other service members from allegedly committing the same crime. This is especially true in military sexual assault cases.

This is just the beginning of course. The military’s prosecutors will have an army of legal support behind them, including Highly Qualified Experts (HQEs), legal consultants, Staff Judge Advocates and Deputy Staff Judge Advocates, paralegal support, investigators, and forensic specialists. The defense counsel you’ve been detailed won’t have access to any of these resources. In fact, if he or she has more than one paralegal for support, it’s considered fortunate.

NEAR-LIMITLESS SUMS OF MONEY WILL BE USED TO SECURE YOUR CONVICTION

If the government’s prosecutors, experts, and consultants don’t sink your chances of a not-guilty court verdict, their near-limitless bank account likely will. Expect the prosecution to receive whatever it is they ask for. This could be anything from expediting the travel of a witness living in a far-off country, to hiring expensive (i.e. extremely qualified) specialists to take the stand.

You’ll be expected to fund your own defense of course. This bottomless government budget is only available to the prosecution, and not even your detailed defense lawyer will have access to it.

LAW ENFORCEMENT IS NOT A NEUTRAL PARTY AND WILL ASSIST THE PROSECUTION EVERY STEP OF THE WAY

CID, NCIS, and OSI have always been tools of the military’s prosecutors. Their goal is to locate incriminating evidence and witness testimony that will assist the government with winning its case. From the moment you were questioned about the events of the crime to the day your trial arrives, military law enforcement will work tirelessly to secure your conviction.

It’s one thing for law enforcement to work alongside the prosecution to assist them with their case. It’s another thing entirely to see them break the law or show a complete sense of disregard for a fellow service member. We’ve been a part of cases where law enforcement agents illegally searched service member homes and belongings, tampered with evidence, altered documents after they were signed, and ignored evidence that may have proven a defendant’s innocence. We cannot stress enough how risky it is to trust law enforcement, and under no circumstances should you cooperate with them or speak to them without a lawyer present.

USACIL AND OTHER GOVERNMENT FACILITIES ARE ACCESSIBLE TO THE PROSECUTION - BUT NOT TO YOU

The United States Army Criminal Investigative Lab, or USACIL for short, is one of the most advanced laboratories in the country. It boasts hundreds of employees and forensic experts and millions of dollars in tools and machinery. It’s also exclusively used by government prosecutors. Military defense attorneys must go through a lengthy permission process to test evidence in this facility, and those tests aren’t kept secret from the government’s prosecutors.

The USACIL may be the largest and most advanced lab facility, but it’s certainly not the only one. Unfortunately, some of the best labs, including the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and the Defense Computer Forensic Lab, are just as likely to turn away a request from a defense team. This makes evidence testing far more expensive for the defense, further undermining their ability to make the case for their clients.

PERKS OFFERED BY A DEFENSE TEAM TO A WITNESS IS ILLEGAL. FOR THE PROSECUTION, IT'S ALL IN A DAY'S WORK

The truth is that the government has the ability to offer leniency and even immunity from prosecution if a witness assists them in a case. So if someone with information about your crime is also facing charges, don’t expect them to be loyal in the face of years of prison time and a dishonorable discharge. He or she will gladly throw you under to bus for a chance at a clean slate.

Such action taken by the government is akin to the defense paying witnesses to offer positive testimony for their client. But if your defense team tried that and was found out, not only would you probably lose your case, but your attorneys would face serious scrutiny. This massive double standard exists in both military and civilian trials and isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon.

LAW ENFORCEMENT WILL DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO STOP YOU FROM CALLING AN ATTORNEY

You’re a sitting duck when you’re in the custody of law enforcement, and they know it. The only real protection you have is your defense attorney, and if you’re just going in for questioning about a case, don’t expect anyone to tell you that you need one. Interrogators will use every trick in the book to get you to slip up and say something that could be used in a trial. Meanwhile, they’re collecting evidence and building a case against you, all without saying a word about it.

By the time charges are preferred against you, there’s little your detailed defense team can do to prepare an effective case. The Article 32 preliminary hearing can be dropped on your defense team almost immediately after charges are preferred, leaving them scrambling to make up for lost time. A delay can be requested, but this request will often be denied. It’s for this reason that we always warn service members to call a lawyer immediately upon being questioned by law enforcement.

THE DEFENSE COUNSEL DETAILED TO YOU MAY NOT GO "ALL OUT" TO WIN YOUR CASE

Your detailed defense counsel has a career to consider when trying cases in a court martial setting, and sometimes this individual simply cannot risk burning bridges with the prosecutors on the other side. These attorneys are likely new, inexperienced, and interested in moving up the ladder. They don’t want to throw you under the bus, but they aren’t going to risk their careers for you either. They’ll tell you to plead guilty because it’s in your best interest. The truth us, they’re often telling you to plead guilty because it’s often in their best interests.

NOW THAT YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE UP AGAINST, THE NEXT QUESTION IS, WHAT WILL YOU DO ABOUT IT?

The odds were against you from the moment you became a suspect of a criminal investigation. You’re playing against an opponent with loaded dice, and the only way to fight back is to hire a defense team that’s smarter, better prepared, and more experienced than the prosecutors that the government is throwing at you.

It’s time to send a message to the prosecutors and law enforcement that have it out for you. It’s time to tell them you won’t be made a scapegoat of. You won’t be another conviction on a prosecutor’s resume. When you walk into court with Bilecki & Tipon, that message is sent loud and clear. You’re not here to be just another victim. You’re here to fight.

Call the law firm of Bilecki & Tipon today at (800) 996-9747 and together we’ll take the fight to the prosecution.