If you’ve been through a court martial, you may have heard the dreaded words convicting you of the offense against you. Even if you’ve been convicted, you may have options. You can bring an appeal of your conviction. An appeal asks a different court to review the case against you.
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The process of bringing an appeal is much more complicated than just stating that the decision of the court martial panel is incorrect. Instead, you have to point to mistakes in the court martial process. That is, you have to show where the court allowed in evidence that they shouldn’t have allowed. Alternatively, you might show that the instructions to the jury weren’t correct.
To win an appeal, you usually have to show that some mistake during the court martial led the jury to make a decision based on the wrong evidence or the wrong instructions. In most cases, you have to point the appeals judges to very specific places in the lower court proceedings where errors occurred. Your court martial appeals attorney can help you prepare the appeal in a convincing way.
Why work with an attorney?
The appeals process is inherently complex. It’s important to be able to identify the issues where there lower court may have made errors. It’s also important to be able to identify the laws and rules that apply to the case. Finally, your court martial appeals lawyer needs to be able to explain to the court how the error prevented you from having a fair trial.
That’s why it’s helpful to work with an attorney that specializes in court martial cases and appeals. Your attorney’s years of experience can be crucial to helping you succeed in bringing your appeal. They often know what works in the appeals process. They can help you avoid the pitfalls that can hurt your case. An experienced attorney is familiar with the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. § § 859-876 which is the legal authority that controls the appeals process, and they can apply the law to your benefit.
The reviewing court has multiple options available to them as they decide your case. They can completely reverse the conviction. They can also reduce your sentence. Fortunately, they can’t increase your sentence, so you usually have nothing to lose by choosing to pursue an appeal.
If the penalties against you are severe, you may receive an automatic review of your conviction. When you receive a dishonorable discharge, a bad conduct discharge or a dismissal, the military automatically reviews the decision. They also review the case automatically if you’re sentenced to more than one year in prison or if you receive the death penalty. If the appeal is not automatic in your case, you can still work with your attorney to file an appeal. You may have your attorney with you at all stages of the appeal.
Summary court martial appeal
If you’re convicted in a summary court martial proceeding rather than a general court martial, you still have appeal rights. However, these appeal rights are a little bit different. Summary court martial cases are usually much less serious than general court martial appeals. For that reason, the record of the proceedings against you may not be as thorough. It’s important to work with your attorney to get a copy of the existing record, so that you can properly file your appeal.
How can an attorney help?
Whether you’re considering filing an appeal of your court martial proceeding or you’ve already made the decision to go forward, there are a lot of ways that an experienced attorney can help you pursue your interests. It’s important to make sure that you file your appeal in the proper court. An appeal needs to contain certain language in order to give it any chance for success.
At each stage, your attorney can give you the confidence to know that you’re making the best possible decisions in your case. They can help you determine which arguments are the most likely to succeed. They can help you raise these arguments in effective ways. Your career is on the line. Choosing the right attorney can make all the difference as you fight for your future.