Jacksonville Military Law Attorneys
Serving Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach and clients throughout Florida
Hardesty, Tyde, Green & Ashton is proud to represent the men and women of the United States Armed Forces in a variety of areas to include courts-martial and administrative actions, including administration separation boards and physical evaluation boards (PEB’s).
Our firm understands what it means to serve. Our motto is “You defend America, we defend you.” LTC (Ret.) W. Marc Hardesty, United States Army served tours as a Company Commander with the 301st Field Hospital and later with the 345th. Frank Ashton served at the Combat Support Hospital that ultimately was deployed with the Third Armored Division (3AD) into Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait during the First Gulf War.
Marc Hardesty, who already had a law degree, continued to serve in his capacity as Company Commander of a hospital unit welcoming the opportunity to serve his unit and country during this conflict. Upon returning from his deployment and after receiving the Bronze Star Medal, he transferred to the Judge Advocate General Corp.
Beginning in 1996, LTC Hardesty served in various capacities to include Detachment Commander of the North Florida/South Georgia Detachment of the 174th LSO until his retirement in 2003. He has tried numerous Army, Navy and Coast Guard courts-martials, separation boards and PEB’s. His track record of excellent results speaks for itself. LTC Hardesty is routinely joined in courts-martial representation by CDR (Ret.) Frank Ashton, United States Navy.
CDR Ashton retired from the United States Navy after serving over 20 years as a Surface Warfare Officer. Interestingly, CDR Ashton, like LTC Hardesty, had earned a law degree but continued to serve in direct operational forces even after receiving his law degree.
What is a Courts-Martial?
Courts-Martials are outlined in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The UCMJ contains the rules and regulations for members of our armed forces as well as the requirements for the three types of courts-martial. The three types of courts-martial are Summary, Special, and General. Within each of these courts-martials, the Military Rules of Evidence apply and the required standard of proof is “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
A Summary Courts-Martial is the lowest level of courts-martial that is presided over by one commissioned officer and is available to enlisted personnel for any UCMJ offense other than capital offenses. Punishment in a summary courts-martial will depend on the pay grade of the accused. Enlisted members above an E-4 pay grade are subject to punishment that is not in excess of confinement for one month, hard labor without confinement for 45 days or forfeiture of two-thirds of one months pay. The enlisted accused at a summary courts-martial has the right to refuse summary courts-martial at which point the convening authority will determine whether the accused should be tried at a special courts-martial or a general courts-martial.
In a summary courts-martial, the enlisted accused does not have the right to representation by an attorney. However, the accused does have the right to cross-examine witnesses appearing against him/her and to call witnesses and produce evidence. The accused also has the right to testify or remain silent during the proceedings.
A Special Courts-Martial is a trial presided over by a military judge along with a jury that is referred to as a panel of members to be chosen by the attorneys for both the accused and the government. The number of members will not be less than three and if the accused is an enlisted service member, they are entitled to have members that are both officer and enlisted. If the accused is an Officer then the panel will be comprised of officers only. The accused also has the right to be tried by a Military Judge alone if the service member so chooses.
Special Courts-Martial is sometimes referred to as the misdemeanor court for the military and may try all ranks of military personnel. The Special Courts-Martial range of punishment under the Rules for Courts-Martial (RCM 1003) permits the Military Judge to sentence the accused to a term of confinement for less than one year, hard labor without confinement for three months or less, or forfeiture of pay not exceeding two thirds pay per month for no more than one year.
A General Courts-Martial is presided over by a Military Judge and a jury of not less that five military members. Enlisted personnel are entitled to a mixture of enlisted and officer members on the jury should the accused select this option. Officers are tried by an officer panel only. The accused may also elect to be tried by Judge alone, thereby eliminating the need for a jury panel of members to determine the outcome of the trial.
The General Courts-Martial court is a felony court and may try any member of the United States Military. General Courts-Martials may provide any form of punishment not prohibited by the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, including death when specifically authorized.
Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP)
The Uniform Code for Military Justice provides for non-judicial punishment (NJP). This is often referred to by different terms depending on the branch of service such as Article 15 for the Army and Air Force, “Office Hours” for the United States Marine Corp or “Captain’s Mast” for the United States Navy or United States Coast Guard. The purpose of non-judicial punishment is to provide discipline options for service members who are accused of committing “minor” offenses such as reporting late for duty, sleeping on watch, insubordination, providing false information and disobeying standing orders. It should be noted that the definition of minor offense is completely discretionary for the Commander imposing the punishment.
The accused has the right to have a witness attend the proceedings, however the accused is not entitled to any representation by an attorney or anyone else during a non-judicial punishment proceeding. Non-Judicial punishment is most often handled by the Commanding Officer of the unit. Service members are entitled to refuse the imposition of non-judicial punishment with the exception of service members that are attached to or underway on a military vessel. Most often this caveat is associated with offenses committed while attached or underway with the United States Navy. Otherwise the accused is entitled to refuse non-judicial punishment and the convening authority then has the option of referring the case to a courts-martial whether it be Summary, Special or General in nature.
Right to Remain Silent
All service members have the right to remain silent during a criminal investigation. The attorneys at Hardesty, Tyde, Green & Ashton strongly encourage service members to exercise their right to remain silent until they have sought competent legal representation in order to determine the course most beneficial to the service members. Investigative agencies (CID, NCIS, etc.) and commands often will make numerous idle threats in order to scare someone into incriminating themselves. This can be a very difficult situation for the service member. However, one must remember that no matter what, the individual has the right to remain silent and anything that the service member says can and will be used against them in future proceedings.
Hiring an attorney experienced with Military Law who has extensive trial experience may mean the difference between saving your career and being convicted.
If you have questions or concerns regarding a military law matter, please contact Hardesty, Tyde, Green & Ashton at 904-398-2212 or 1-877-398-2212.
Please contact our Jacksonville, Florida military trial attorneys for more info. Regardless of who you are, our trial attorneys will stand next to you.