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Orange County Bar Association

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar

Courtroom Location and Legal Support Services: Bldg 4422, Elrod Ave, San Diego, CA 92145-2022

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Military lawyer Will Bruzzo has been practicing military law for over 20 years.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) includes all the crimes that service members can be charged with. These laws apply to military personnel 24 hours a day everywhere around the world. As long as you are on active duty the Uniform Code of Military Justice applies to you. The rules are slightly different for individuals on reserve duty.

Each military member subject to a special court-martial (maximum sentence 1 year) or a General court-martial (unlimited punishment) is entitled to a military lawyer. However, the member can also hire his own civilian lawyer at his expense and still keep the military lawyer as well. This is a very good situation for the military member as he gets two attorneys for the price of one.

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar is located only a few miles from downtown San Diego. There are many opportunities for Marines to include educational opportunities at the many surrounding institutions of higher learning. At times the full array of entertainment options can be overwhelming for young service members away from home for the first time. Mr. Bruzzo has successfully represented many Miramar Marines in a variety of military and civilian criminal cases.

Positive Urinalysis/ Possession of a Controlled Substance/ Wrongful Use of a Controlled Substance Article 112a of the UCMJ

The most common crime in the military is a violation of Article 112a of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, also known as positive urinalysis. In order to prove this offense the Government must show that the service member knowingly ingested a controlled substance and knew that the substance was a controlled substance at the time of ingestion. For example, if a drug like ecstasy or cocaine is dissolved in a person’s drink, they could be unaware of the presence of the substance. Therefore they should be found NOT GUILTY of a violation of Article 112a because they were unaware. This offense carries up to 1 year of incarceration.

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Possession of a controlled substance/ Positive Urinalysis Military Lawyer Will Bruzzo has successfully represented many military members for violations of Article 112a of the UCMJ. Mr. Bruzzo has used a variety of techniques to win these cases to include arguing that the service member was too intoxicated from alcohol to know he was ingesting a controlled substance and in another case he argued that there were problems with the chain of custody which undermined the reliability of the result. Of course, the Government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Accused knowingly ingested the substance and Mr. Bruzzo has won cases with that argument as well.

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Possession of a controlled substance/ Positive Urinalysis Military Lawyer Will Bruzzo also argued successfully in several cases that problems in the Navy Drug Lab in San Diego raised doubts about the reliability of positive urinalysis results. In April of 2012 it was discovered that a false positive had occurred at the Navy Drug Lab. That is, a sample had entered the Navy Drug Lab free of any controlled substance but come out positive for a controlled substance. This meant that the Navy Drug Lab had contaminated a urine sample. In May of 2012 the Director of the Navy Drug Lab was relieved. When Mr. Bruzzo brought this up at court-martial, two different positive urinalysis cases were dismissed. Please call Mr. Bruzzo for a free consultation on any Military case or any Article 112a violation of the UCMJ at (714) 547-4636.

Rape/Sexual Assault Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice

There has been significant political pressure on the military to bring charges of sexual assault and rape in cases which would normally never have been brought. Many times both parties are highly intoxicated and so the issue of whether consent was given is hard to discern. Despite that, military authorities will often bring charges anyway to satisfy political pressure.

Rape of an adult can occur when a person uses force to have intercourse with the victim; any amount of penetration however slight is sufficient for a charge of rape. More common charges are when the victim is highly intoxicated and the Accused has sex with the person at a time when they are unable to give consent because of their level of intoxication. This situation is often charged as sexual assault. The maximum sentence for Rape by force is death; Sexual Assault carries a maximum punishment of up to 30 years.

Notably, there is an incentive for “victims” of rape and sexual assault to fabricate allegations in the military that does not exist on the civilian side. That is because Adultery (Article 134) is a crime in the military and both parties can be prosecuted. So, if a married person or two married persons have intercourse with someone not their spouse then they can be charged with the crime of Adultery and even incarcerated although that is very rare. The existence of this crime provides an incentive for victims in rape and sexual assault cases to fabricate allegations.

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Rape/Sexual Assault Article 120 UCMJ Military Lawyer Will Bruzzo has successfully represented many service members for violations of Article 120. Mr. Bruzzo has taken many of these cases to trial with the result that military jurors have found his clients NOT GUILTY. Please see his testimonials. Call Mr. Bruzzo at (714) 547-4636

Unauthorized Absence/ AWOL (Away without Leave) Article 86 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice

Unauthorized Absence refers to anytime a person fails to report for duty at the appointed time. Therefore, a service member can be charged with this offense even if he is simply late for work. Notably, Unauthorized Absence does not usually make it to court-martial unless the person is absent for at least several days.

Defenses to Unauthorized Absence could be hospitalization or another situation where the person was physically unable to appear as required and it was beyond their control. Being in custody for an offense you are later convicted of is NOT a defense. Family emergencies that cause the service member to absent himself are not defenses to this crime but they may be taken into consideration in mitigation. Unauthorized Absences that exceed 30 days are considered desertion and may be punished by up to 1 year of incarceration.

In certain situations where an individual has been in an Unauthorized Absence status for 1 year or more the Military may forego the court-martial process altogether and simply process the person out administratively. Often times this results in an Other then Honorable Discharge (OTH) categorization but then there is no risk of incarceration and the whole process may take only a couple of weeks.

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Unauthorized Absence Article 86 of the UCMJ Military Lawyer Will Bruzzo has successfully represented many service members accused of Unauthorized Absence. For individuals who just wanted to get out of the military, he has managed to get some out in a matter of weeks and avoided court-martial. Please call Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Unauthorized Absence Article 86 of the UCMJ Military Lawyer Will Bruzzo for any Unauthorized Absence case or any military matter for a free consultation at (714) 547-4636.

Administrative Separations

The United States Military has established procedures for removing people from military service for a variety of reason. The most common grounds for removing someone is because of misconduct. The Personnel Separations Manual permits Commands to remove individuals administratively at their discretion. For example, if an individual comes up positive on a urinalysis test for a controlled substance the Command may send the individual to a court-martial or they can bypass the time and complications of a court-martial and simply send the person to an administrative hearing. (They can also bypass Non-Judicial Punishment or Article 15 procedures by going directly to an administrative separation board).

The Personnel Separations Manual actually requires that each individual who comes up positive on a urinalysis test be processed administratively if they are not separated at a court-martial. In addition to a positive urinalysis result, a service member can also be separated for a pattern of misconduct. This basis for separation usually requires two or more NJP or Article 15 adverse entries in their service record book. The adverse entries can be relatively minor like uniform discrepancies or being late for work. However after the service member accumulates two or more, the Command now has grounds to separate him/her administratively under Section 1910-140 of the Manual.

Procedure at Administrative Separation Boards

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Administrative Separations Military Lawyer Will Bruzzo has successfully represented many service members at Administrative Separation Hearings on a variety of different cases. Each Service Member is entitled to a lawyer at these hearings in most cases. One notable exception is at sea on a ship. Junior service members may be denied an Administrative Separation Hearing and separated without one. In addition to a military lawyer which the service member will not pay for, the service member can also hire a private attorney at his/her own expense. This is highly recommended as the results of a separation hearing can end a career and leave a permanent negative mark on the individual’s record.

The hearing resembles a legal hearing except there are no rules of evidence and hearsay evidence is admissible at the discretion of the senior board member who hears the evidence with two other individuals. Usually the case is heard by a Company Grade Officer and two senior enlisted people. Those three individuals hear all the evidence and first decide whether the Command has shown that grounds for separation exists. So if the basis for separation is a pattern of misconduct the issue becomes has the Command shown evidence of two or more acts of misconduct. Generally, the member’s service record book will be entered into evidence for that purpose. However, the Command can also have a representative from the Command speak about the misconduct of the person they are trying to separate. The person subject to the hearing can also offer any relevant evidence to include character evidence or otherwise attack the grounds for the separation. The board then votes (by majority) to retain or separate the member.

If the Board members decide that the actions of the service member as proven by the Command deserve separation then the board will announce those findings and then hear evidence on what type of separation characterization the member should receive. The Board has three options: Honorable, General (Under Honorable Conditions) and Other Then Honorable (OTH). Notably, any separation that is not an honorable will cause the member to lose all his/her benefits to include the GI bill. The member subject to the board can offer more evidence to help the board decide what type of categorization he/she should receive. The final act of the Board and the hearing is to inform the member of the type of discharge he/she will be receiving. The board then closes.

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Administrative Separations Military Lawyer Will Bruzzo has managed to get many service members retained at these hearings. Please call Mr. Bruzzo for a free consultation at (714) 547-4636.

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