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Marsha411JD
Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 20354
Experience:  Licensed attorney and former Navy JAG serving ashore, afloat and at the OJAG
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I recently turned down an Article 15 and demanded trial by

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I recently turned down an Article 15 and demanded trial by court martial. Afterwards I was pressured by my parents due to financial burden and concern for my well being of going through the process alone to return to my chain of command and request returning to and accepting an Article 15. I explained to my command that out of respect for them I would do this. I have yet to receive word from my command if this would be allowed, however I was told that in me even asking to do this can and would be used against me specifically as an admission of guilt if it ultimately proceeds to court martial. I do not understand how this is so, since I explained I requested this strictly out of my parents concerns and I did not admit to anything. Please help as this has me very concerned. Also, how should I proceed forward with my command to not further hurt me if this is the case? Should I continue with the request or just explain that I will accept what they ultimately decide and say nothing further? Thanks for the help.

Hello,

Thank you for the information and your question. Although I am not sure who would have told you that telling your Command that you would accept NJP is an admission of guilt, that is not the case. That, of course, assumes that you said absolutely nothing about the facts of the case and did not otherwise admit that you did anything wrong. Picking a forum to resolve an allegation of violation of the UCMJ is not an admission. Of course, I was not privy to the conversation so I couldn't conclusively say you didn't make an admission.

Anyway, at this point, you made your request to return to an Article 15 and that is all you can do to control the situation. You should not make any more statements at all about this issue and just wait to see what the Command decides. All that said, I am not really sure what kind of financial burden your parents were concerned with should you go to court-martial as the process doesn't directly cost you any money, other than if you were convicted and you were fined as a part of your punishment. You would be assigned a very competent and professional judge advocate to represent you, so that wouldn't be a cost.

But in any event, at this point, you just have to let the process run its course, and if you need legal assistance, go to the local defense office for help.

Please let me know if you have any specific follow up questions. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks for your reply. I did not state anything about my case at all to my command and I only stated out of concern of my family I request to return back to NJP and that I would accept those proceedings, if possible. It was actually one of the JAG defense attorneys that I spoke with afterwards that made this comment to me that this could be used as an admission of guilt (which I did not do) in a court martial. I was very concerned with what he said as I am not too familiar with the MCM/rules for court martials. I am sure my command will return to me and ask me about this again and if that is still what I request, would it be okay to state the same and nothing further?

Hello again and thank you for your reply. Well, the JAG Officer has more of the facts than I do, but I can tell you that if you only asked to retract your request for court-martial and request that the charge be handled at an Article 15, that is not an admission. So, yes, if you are asked again if you are willing to dispose of this charge at NJP, then you can simply say yes. You don't want to say that you will accept the punishment, if you think you might be sent to court-martial, or if you will want to appeal the NJP. Just, that you request the forum be changed back to NJP.
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