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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 116226
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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I recently went to Las Vegas during a holiday weekend and

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Hello. I recently went to Las Vegas during a holiday weekend and got married to my fiancee. I came back to turn in my papers and they said I violated Leave Pass policy (I'm in Ft Hood, TX). The mileage policy is 250 miles as stated in a commander's policy letter. I am here at Hood as a Reservist and I'm reclassing my MOS. I've been out of the military 6 years and I honestly had no idea of commander's policy else I wouldn't have turned in my marriage papers! I didn't not violate a curfew and I was back the same day I got married. I have stellar active duty record but they told me they are recommending a Field Grade Article 15 for violating the Leave/Pass policy. Although, the Army Reg says nothing about mileage only the commander's policy letter. I should be formally read this week. How should I proceed with extenuation and mitigation? All they have is my marriage certificate and a sworn statement that says I got married but had no idea that I violated a policy letter.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

As this is not something that is part of the official regulations and is a commanding officer policy, they have to prove that you were actually provided with a copy of that policy and were thus deemed to be aware of the policy. This, combined with the mitigating fact you did not violate the pass itself would be your best defenses and your best chance of appealing this if the hearing officer convicts you of this, which given the total circumstances conviction on a field grade, which is the most severe, would likely not happen because of your situation unless they prove you were actually told not to leave the 250 mile radius when you received the pass.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for reply. But are they even required to prove I had knowledge of this? I was never given a copy of the policy as it was on our own to get familiar with all policies. Fact is I was never told not to leave a 'x' mile radius but was told "I should have known better." Be advised, I turned in my own marriage paperwork so I would think that would show I didn't know. Thoughts?

In a case like you describe where policy is not the same as the regulation, they have to prove you did actually know of the commander's policy and they can show you knew by proof you merely signed for the policies, as once you signed for the receipt of the commander's policies that is circumstantial proof of your knowledge. However, based on the total circumstances, I still believe that you have a decent chance of them not finding against you in this.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ok thanks a lot. One last response, I haven't been formally read yet just a counseling stating the recommendation. Is this Field Grade Article 15 overreaching in your view? I did nothing wrong besides being outside of the 250 mile limit and I have a spotless record. Also, when you say this is not the same as a regulation that means I didn't violate a regulation just the commander's policy letter correct?

The BN JAG officer is going to review it today. What will he/she be looking for, in an evidence perspective that would clear the court martial hurdle (I won't go down that route but I know they have to ensure they have a solid case). They only have a marriage certificate that I turned in. Again, I appreciate your time.

Thank you for your response. Yes, unless they can prove you did actually have knowledge of the policy and intentionally violated it, the field grade is a bit overreacting given you did return in time under the pass.

Technically you violate a regulation every time you violate any commanding officer's order or policy, but what I meant is that the officer's policy was different than the official regulation on leave and as such they need to prove you were told of the policy and intentionally violated it to rise it to the level as severe as they are suggesting. They are going to be looking for proof you intentionally violated this policy, meaning that you had either actual or constructive knowledge of the policy.
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