Military Law

Court Martial Solicitors

While serving in the armed forces, you are governed by military law. If you are accused of breaking the law, you could face trial in the Court Martial.

If you are facing the court martial, our experienced military solicitors can help. We can help you through the process, attend interviews and represent you in any hearings.

Contact Our Expert Court Martial Solicitors

If you're facing a Court Martial, you need the very best representation. Our expert military solicitors can help.0333 3580 393

What is the Court Martial?

The Court Martial is a military court established under the Armed Forces Act 2006. It has jurisdiction over anyone who serves under the;

  1. Royal Air Force
  2. Army
  3. Royal Navy

It is like a civilian Crown Court but the terminology is different. Instead of a judge, there is the ‘Judge Advocate’ and instead of the Jury, there is the ‘Board’.

Depending in the severity of the offence, the Board can comprise of 3-7 military officers.

What Offences Can I Be Court Martialled For?

A Court Martial can deal with a broad range of offences set out in the Armed Forces Act 2006.

Some offences include but not limited to;

  • Assisting the enemy
  • Misconduct on operations
  • Obstructing operations
  • Looting
  • Mutiny
  • Desertion
  • Absence without leave (AWOL)
  • Dangerous flying
  • Giving false air signals

If something is a criminal offence in England and Wales, a serving member of the military can be tried under Court Martial. Regardless of where in the world the offence took place.

Civilians can also face Court martial if they commit an offence while;

  1. Working for the MOD as a contractor, or
  2. Working as an employee of another organisation hired by the MOD

What is the Court Martial Process?

Police Station Interview

Regardless of where in the world you are serving if you have;

  1. Been arrested, or
  2. Asked to attend a voluntary interview

The police must conduct their interviews in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

This means you do not have to speak to the police until you have spoken to a solicitor and received proper legal advice.

Charging

When the police complete their investigation, they will refer you case to the Service Prosecution Authority.

They will tell your Commanding Office if there is enough evidence to charge you and if so, how to deal with your case. The final decision on whether to charge you rests with your commanding officer.

Summary Hearing or Court Martial

If you are accused of minor offences, your commanding officer will deal with your case in a Summary Hearing.

For serious accusations, your case will be dealt with by the Court Martial.

You do not have the right to legal representation at a Summary Hearing. However, if you want your case to be heard, you can choose trial by Court Martial.

You could also proceed with the Summary Hearing. If you do not agree with the outcome, you could appeal to the Summary Appeal Court. If you appeal your finding of guilt, you will face a full trial, like you would if your case had been referred to the Court Martial in the first place.

You are entitled to legal representation at a Court Martial or Summary Appeal Court. Our solicitors have experience in both.

What Sentence Could I Face Under the Court Martial?

The range of sentences a Court Martial can issue range from a reduction in rank to a life prison sentence.

Civilians often view Court Martial sentences as very harsh. However, sentences consider;

  1. How serious the offences are
  2. The potential threat to national security, and
  3. The level of responsibility members of the military on active service have

Up to Two Years in Prison

Examples of offences that could result in a prison sentence of up to two years include:

  • Flying under 2,000 feet in a fixed wing aircraft, or under five hundred feet in a helicopter
  • Being unfit for duty because of drugs or alcohol
  • Failing to attend for duty
  • Disclosing information
  • Disrespectful behaviour to a superior

Up to Ten Years in Prison

Examples of more serious offences which could result in a prison sentence of up to ten years include;

  • Putting your colleagues at risk
  • Recklessly obeying a command or order
  • Threatening or using violence against a superior
  • Failing to escape when it was possible to do so

Up to Life in Prison

Only the most serious offences could result is a life prison sentence. These include;

  • Dangerous flying
  • Endangering a ship
  • Mutiny or failing to suppress a mutiny
  • Stealing from injured or dead officers
  • Surrendering without due cause
  • Deserting or going absent without leave
  • Harbouring the enemy
  • Proving the enemy with supplies
  • Assisting the enemy

Can I Appeal a Sentence?

You can appeal to the Court Martial Appeal Court. They will review the decisions and sentence issued by the Court Martial.

If your appeal fails, you can take it to the Supreme Court.

How Do I Pay For A Court Martial Solicitor?

It is free to have one of our court martial solicitors attend your police interview. It does not matter where in the world you are serving. The Armed Forces Criminal Legal Aid Authority (AFCLAA) will cover the cost.

If you to go on trial by the Court Martial, you are entitled to legal aid paid for by the AFCLAA. They will also cover the costs if you lodge an appeal with the Appeal Court.

There is a small possibility that you could be asked to contribute to the cost of your defence. That said, this is quite rare.

In the event that;

  1. You are not entitled to legal aid, or
  2. If you cannot afford to contribute to the cost of your defence

We can discuss funding options with you.

Why Choose Ringrose Law?

We have a lot of experience in military law so we know how devastating the impact of an investigation and criminal charge can be. Both on your career and personal life.

We can represent you and provide expert advice during police interviews. Should your case go to court, we will provide you with the best possible legal defence.

Our lawyers work with empathy, providing the best possible support at every stage. We always speak in plain language and keep you informed at every stage, so you know what to expect and when.

We will prepare you for each interview and hearing, so you will be confident going into every situation.

Contact Our Expert Court Martial Solicitors

If you're facing a Court Martial, you need the very best representation. Our expert military solicitors can help.0333 3580 393

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    Rebecca FreitasPartner & Solicitor, Criminal Law
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    Tony FreitasPartner & Solicitor, Criminal Law
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    01522 561040
    Iona HanrahanDuty Solicitor, Criminal Law
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    01522 561020
    Michele ElvinSolicitor
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