Adverse Administrative Action in the Military: What It Is and How a Military Defense Lawyer Can Help

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Adverse Administrative Action

When you join the military, you sign up for a life of discipline and order. Part of that discipline includes following the orders of your superiors. If you are ever accused of violating regulations, you may be subject to adverse administrative action instead of, or in addition to, a court-martial (which will result in a criminal record if you are convicted). This can result in serious consequences, including discharge from the military. In this blog post, we will discuss what adverse administrative action is in the military and how a military defense lawyer can help.

Understanding Adverse Administrative Action

Adverse administrative action is non-criminal military discipline that is imposed on a service member for violating military regulations. Adverse administrative action can be thought of as employment action.  Administrative administrative action can range from performance improvement measures like counseling, extra military instruction, to more severe measures to include separation, reduction in rank, and reduced characterization of service.  Even if you are only planning on serving for a one enlistment, a reduced characterization of service can follow you for the rest of your life and even deprive you of any benefit of your service outside of the military. 

Types of Administrative Action

Counseling, administrative entries, and lowered evaluations are all considered adverse administrative actions and can each be challenged according to relevant service policy.  The discretion of the commander to enter negative paperwork in someone's record is substantial and difficult to attack after the fact.  The best way to mitigate this form of adverse action is to earn the support of the person who entered it and show that you overcame the issue at the same command.  However, if this is not possible, waiting is the worst thing you can do.  Do your research and file your appeals and contrary statements as best you can, preferably with the help of an attorney.  A military defense attorney should be able to help you get started.  For more complex appeals, you should speak with a civilian military attorney who can provide a more comprehensive representation.

Non-judicial punishment noncriminal formal proceeding under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  It may only be imposed by your commanding officer.  Attorneys are generally not involved for Article 15 proceedings.  The standard of proof is lower than a court martial (preponderance).  Article 15 can be refused by demanding a trial by court-martial.  This is a VERY serious decision that should only be made after consulting with an attorney.  If you are facing a DRB or believe that your command is considering taking you to an Article 15 proceeding, you should speak with an attorney ahead of time to plan your appeal.  Generally, mast appeals must allege disproportionate (too harsh) or unjust punishment.  Appeal windows are really tight (5 days), so speaking with an attorney ahead of time will save you time and allow for the strongest appeal possible.

Elimination or separation boards are more serious and can result in a service member being discharged from the military. These boards are typically used when there are allegations of misconduct or poor performance. Commands will often take a member to an Article 15 proceeding and then use the finding from the proceeding as a basis for a separation board.  Members with 6 or more years of service are entitled to a board (8 years in the Coast Guard) with a hearing and the opportunity to present evidence and challenge the government's evidence.  Members with less time in service may only have a chance to respond in writing. 

Regardless of what type of administrative action a person is facing, employing the services of an experienced military defense attorney can help them make sense of the process and options.

Reasons for Administrative Action

There are many different reasons why a service member may be subject to adverse administrative action. Some of the most common reasons include: 

  • Misconduct
  • Poor performance
  • Violation of military regulations

Common Challenges Associated with Adverse Administrative Action

If you are facing adverse administrative action, you may be feeling scared and alone. It is important to remember that you have rights and there are people who can help you. Some of the common challenges associated with adverse administrative action include: 

  • Loss of rank
  • Loss of pay
  • Loss of benefits (lowered characterization of service)
  • Discharge

Does Administrative Action Look Different in Different Branches of the Military?

Article 15 is governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but the process is slightly different across services.  Other forms of administrative actions are governed by specific policy and depend heavily on the commanders intent and other specifics in your case.

How a Military Defense Lawyer Can Help

If you face adverse administrative action, you have the right to speak to a military defense lawyer. A military defense attorney can help you understand the charges against you and build a strong defense.

For years, the attorneys at The Griffin Law Firm have been helping military personnel as they navigate the process of building a solid case before going to court. Contact The Griffin Law Firm today for expert insight and guidance into your case.

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