What Is a Service Personnel’s Rights at an Article 32 Hearing?

gavel and scales on desk

Determining when to go with an Article 32 hearing.

An article 32 hearing is a military tribunal that is convened to review the punishment of an enlisted member for a violation of military law. This hearing is held before a court martial. The convening authority, headed by a preliminary hearing officer (PHO), reviews the evidence submitted at trial and makes a recommendation to the military service on whether to proceed with a court-martial or not.

At an Article 32 hearing, the service personnel's rights are sometimes a concern. But here are a few things you should know:

a. You Have The Right to Know: The service member should be given the opportunity to know the charges against them and have an attorney present.

b. You Have The Right to Be Heard: The service member should be allowed to present their side of the story and have an attorney and witnesses present.

c. You Have The Right to a Fair Trial: A fair and impartial trial is key for a service member's right to a fair outcome. This is an inalienable right.

d. You Have The Right to Remain Silent: If the service member does not want to speak during their Article 32 hearing, they are allowed to remain silent

e. You Have a Right To Skip an Article 32 Hearing: You may decide to skip an Article 32 hearing if you want to. For example, if it is in your best interests to do so.

In What Instances Might It Be Better To Skip an Article 32 Hearing?

Military justice is a complex process that can be difficult to understand. However, it is important to know when to go through an Article 32 hearing and when to go straight to court-martial.

There are a number of situations in which it might be better to skip an Article 32 hearing and go straight to court-martial. For example, if the accused has committed a serious offense that has a lot of backing evidence, it may be best to skip the hearing and proceed with a court-martial.

In some cases, where the accused officer does not have any prior disciplinary history, an Article 32 hearing may be necessary. However, if you have already been administratively disciplined for a similar offense, your chances of receiving a recommendation for a more severe punishment at an Article 32 hearing are high, so you may skip Article 32. 

In addition, it is always possible that the PHO may identify misbehavior during the Article 32 hearing and propose further charges in the future dated court-martial.

So, Should You Go With an Article 32 Hearing or Not?

There is a lot of confusion out there about whether or not you should have an Article 32 hearing. Understandably so. Some people think that it’s the only way to get their case resolved, while others believe that it’s just a waste of time. In reality, there are a lot of factors to consider before making this decision, and consulting with a military law attorney is always a good idea. 

This is because there are pros and cons to both options, and it really depends on the situation. As such, If you want to know more about your options, it's important to consult with a Norfolk military criminal defense attorney at Griffin Law Defense. 

We make sure to take advantage of your rights and protect your future.

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