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 Preliminary Hearing (UCMJ Article 32 and RCM 405).

What Happens in an Article 32 Hearing

In an Article 32 hearing, an appointed Preliminary Hearing Officer (PHO) considers the case (witnesses and evidence) and makes non-binding recommendations about his/her view of whether probable cause exists, how the case was, or should, be charged, and how the case should be resolved (a court-martial or some other course of action, to include dropping the case). 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 Preliminary Hearing 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, the recommendations of the Preliminary Hearing Officer are not binding.

In recent years, Article 32 hearings have been changed in significant ways. Often, this leads prosecutors to suggest that the hearing is now nothing more than a meaningless formality before a military case is referred to trial by court-martial. We maintain that Article 32 hearings still can be very important hearings, in which evidentiary issues and legal issues that impact case disposition recommendations can be exposed and leveraged to the advantage of the accused.

As such, an Article 32 hearing can still be an important strategic opportunity for the defense. Given the jeopardy faced by military members in court-martial trials, experienced and aggressive defense representation is crucial at an Article 32 hearing.

Get the Best Defense Possible for Your Article 32 Hearing

Defending military members in the court-martial process, including Article 32 hearings, is what our civilian court-martial defense lawyers do. The only type of law they handle is military law. Our 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.

Attorney Richard Stevens

Mr. Stevens has been handling military cases since 1995. He has defended military cases dealing with the most serious military offenses, including allegations of “war crimes,” national security cases, murder, manslaughter, homicide, rape, sexual assault, other sex related offenses, drug offenses, computer crimes (pornography), larceny, fraud, AWOL/desertion, conduct unbecoming, military academy offenses, offenses within combat zones, senior officer cases and other military specific offenses around the world. [ Attorney Bio ]

Get Help Now

Complete the below form for a free, no obligation initial consultation.


    “Your client has no idea how lucky he was to have hired you.”

    - Former Senior Military JAG Attorney

    “He simply commanded the courtroom, prepared to the teeth, and, most importantly, retained his personal and professional manner that proved so impressive in his advocacy success.”

    - Former Senior Military Judge

    “His advocacy, compassion, intellect, and demeanor are unsurpassed.”

    - Former Military Staff Judge Advocate and Trial Judge

    “That was the best closing argument I have ever seen; by a civilian or military attorney.”

    - Senior Court Reporter

    From Our Blog

    Contacting a Lawyer – The Difference Between Free Initial Consultation and Free Legal Advice

    Many law firms, including ours, offer free initial consultations. People sometimes mistake “free initial consultation” as meaning “free legal advice.” Free initial consultation with a lawyer is not the same as free legal advice. As lawyers handling criminal or [...]