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Orange County Bar Association

Military Crimes

Southern California Military Lawyer

If you need a Southern California Military Lawyer then contact Mr. Bruzzo at (714) 547-4636.

All active duty military personnel are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The UCMJ applies to active duty military personnel 24-hours a day anywhere in the world, on ships and in the air.

The UCMJ only applies to reserve military personnel when they are on duty; if they are on duty for a weekend then it should only apply while they are at the drill center between drill hours.

On some occasions the military will permit civilian authorities to prosecute a case involving a military person; it is up to the military command of the individual how this is handled.

If a service member is charged with a crime he has the right to a military defense counsel appointed to him in the same fashion that a public defender defends a civilian; however, in addition to the military counsel the service member can hire a civilian counsel. Notably, the military counsel will remain on the case to help the civilian counsel at no charge to the service member. Thus the service member can get two attorneys for the price of one.

The military member will initially be read the charges against him then sent down to the Staff Judge Advocate to speak to an attorney.

The service member is entitled to a court-martial of his peers which in the case of a military person is other military persons. An enlisted person subject to court martial is entitled to have 1/3 of the members of his court-martial (jury) be enlisted persons.

In a military court martial a conviction only requires that 2/3 of the members (jurors) concur on the conviction.

The maximum sentence for a special court-martial is 1 year in jail; a general court-martial has unlimited punishment to include death. (Summary Court-Martials are very rare and will not be discussed here.)

Some times a service member’s command will offer Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP in the Navy and Marine Corps) or Article 15 (Army and Air Force) instead of a court-martial. This sort of process is not considered judicial in nature thus there is no conviction and the service member cannot be incarcerated although he can lose rank, pay and be restricted to the barracks.

Another military procedure is the administrative separation process. This procedure is guided by the separations manual of the various services. An individual can be separated for many different matters to include: a pattern of misconduct (two or more NJPs or Article 15s); a positive urinalysis for a controlled substance; one serious act of misconduct; sexual orientation and good of the service among others. The possible discharge categories available are honorable, general under honorable conditions and an other then honorable discharge (OTH). IF YOU RECEIVE ANYTHING LESS THEN AN HONORABLE DISCHARGE YOU WILL LOSE MOST BENEFITS TO INCLUDE THE GI BILL.

The most common crime service members are accused of is positive urinalysis for a controlled substance Article 112(a) UCMJ. This is generally charged as a special-court martial. Mr. Bruzzo has successfully represented many military service members charged with this offense and more serious charges.

Mr. Bruzzo rose to the rank of Major in the US military; he has successfully defended many individuals in many types of cases both when he was on active duty and since becoming a civilian attorney practicing criminal law in Orange County, Southern California. Contact him if you need an experienced Southern California military lawyer.

An individual may want to be discharged from the military and Mr. Bruzzo has successfully handled military discharge requests.

Mr. Bruzzo frequently handles military law cases in San Diego.

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