If you’ve been accused of a criminal offence and are being investigated by the Armed Forces Police or are facing Court Martial we understand that the consequences are of huge importance to you.
When choosing the right Solicitors to help don’t fall for the trap of choosing someone because they helped with your family matter or your colleague’s compensation claim, ensure they are familiar with the Armed Forces and have the necessary experience of advising in criminal cases.
We are highly experienced criminal law Solicitors, experienced in advising those in the Armed Forces and are happy to speak to you to see if we can assist.
How we can help…
If you are being investigated by Armed Forces Police
Anyone who is interviewed by the civilian police, SIB (Special Investigation Branch), RMP (Royal Military Police), CJPU (Cyprus Joint Police Unit), RAF Police or Royal Navy Police has the right to be represented by a Solicitor. This right applies even if the interview takes place outside of the UK.
We can assist either by advising you during your interview or, if it’s already taken place we can discuss your immediate concerns to see if we can assist further.
Court Martial Proceedings
It’s important to get the right advice for Court Martial Proceedings. We are highly experienced in advising on criminal proceedings and work to get the best outcome for our clients. Remember that a Court Martial has the same powers as a civilian court when sentencing someone for a criminal offence.
What happens in a Court Martial?
A Court Martial can take place inside or outside of the UK and the procedure resembles that of the Crown Court. It’s presided over by a civilian Judge, known as the Judge Advocate.
The Service Prosecution Authority will provide evidence of the alleged criminal conduct ahead of any court hearing. If you know you are facing Court Martial it’s best to get advice as soon as possible, even if you’ve not received the evidence.
Once the Court Martial proceedings begin a hearing called a PCMH (Plea and Case Management Hearing) will be scheduled. At this hearing you will be asked if you plead guilty or not guilty.
However, before the PCMH your Solicitor will consider the evidence and will take you through it to hear your side. They will advise you on the law and what will happen next. It’s an important stage for a Solicitor, as they will be looking at the strength of the case, how the trial needs to be approached and what further information is needed to help your case.
If there is to be a trial this will be on another date after the PCMH. At the trial the prosecution witnesses will give evidence and the defence has the opportunity to cross-examine those witnesses. The defence team will also have the opportunity to put forward their case. This is essentially a criminal trial in a military setting. You need to ensure your lawyers have the necessary courtroom experience and expertise in criminal law.
It will be the “Board” who makes the decision as to whether you are guilty or not guilty. They are essentially the Jury. The Board can consist of 3 or 5 members. The Judge Advocate will guide them on the law but the Board will decide how to treat the evidence and if they find you guilty or not guilty. If there is a finding of guilt, they will sit with the Judge to determine the appropriate sentence.
As in the civilian Courts anyone accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proving guilt lies with the prosecution. Only if the Board is sure of guilt can they convict. If there is doubt, they must return a not guilty verdict.
Summary Appeal Court and Court Martial Court of Appeal
If you have been convicted or sentenced by your Commanding Officer you have the right to appeal against that finding to a Summary Appeals Court (SAC).
If you have been convicted before a Court Martial but wish for advice to appeal that conviction to the Court Martial Appeal Court we also may be able to assist.
We will advise you what your funding options are. If you are facing Court Martial you can apply for legal aid, which is administered by the Armed Forces Criminal Legal Aid Authority. You might have to make a financial contribution towards your legal aid costs. Alternatively you can fund the case yourself. We can tailor our services to suit your needs and budget. We understand that you have never thought you needed to save for this advice. We can discuss with you if costs can be fixed so that you have certainty.
What do to next?
If you are the subject of a military investigation or are due to appear before a Court Martial and need advice, we are happy to speak to you in confidence to discuss your immediate concerns and to see if we can assist. This is without obligation by you. If you are abroad we can also arrange a time to speak over Skype if that’s more convenient.
You can email us or telephone us on 07796 541 340 or 0208 6934 775.