U.C.M.J. Article 32 Hearing
In order for military charges and specifications to be referred to trial by General Court-Martial, the case must first be considered in an Article 32 investigative hearing (UCMJ Article 32 and RCM 405). In an Article 32 investigation, an appointed Investigating Officer considers the case (witnesses and evidence) and makes non-binding recommendations about his/her view of the truth of the allegations, how the case was charged, and how the case should be resolved (a court-martial or some other course of action). These non-binding recommendations are then considered in the referral decision. An Article 32 hearing is not required for a Special Court-Martial.
An Article 32 Investigating Officer can make many different recommendations. For instance, the Investigating Officer can recommend that the case proceed to a General Court-Martial, that charges be amended or added, that the case proceed to Special Court-Martial, that alternative dispositions (such as administrative discharge, resignation, or nonjudicial punishment) be considered, or that the case be dropped altogether; however, again, this recommendation is not binding.
An Article 32 hearing can be an important strategic opportunity for the defense. The hearing serves as a means of "discovery" into the government’s evidence and witnesses. Through questioning and cross-examination, witnesses called during the Article 32 hearing can be committed to sworn testimony that will benefit the defense case at trial. Moreover, fatal flaws in the government’s case can be exposed during the Article 32 hearing that could derail the prosecution or even result in the court-martial case being dropped. Given the jeopardy faced by military members in court-martial trials, experienced and aggressive defense representation is crucial at an Article 32 hearing.
Defending military members in the court-martial process, including Article 32 hearings, is what civilian court-martial defense lawyers Richard V. Stevens and Frank J. Spinner do. The only type of law they handle is military law. Mr. Stevens and Mr. Spinner are civilian criminal defense attorneys and former military JAG lawyers who exclusively defend military members stationed around the world who are facing military trials, discipline and investigations. If you’re facing military court-martial allegations and an Article 32 hearing, don’t hesitate to seek the legal help you’re going to need. For a free initial case consultation, please contact us.