In the future, it may not be in your best interest to plead guilty even if you are!
On 12 March 2013, a bipartisan bill was introduced called the Military Judicial Reform Act. This bill is intended to amend Article 60 of the UCMJ to withdraw the power military commanders currently have to change the findings and sentences after a court-martial is over. If this bill is passed, what does it mean for those facing the possibility of court-martial? It means a couple of things. First, the commander who convenes the court-martial (convening authority) may no longer come to aid of an accused after the court-martial, if the results are completely unfair. Sometimes, military judges and panels wrongfully convict Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of crimes despite there being a lack of evidence presented. Likewise, sometimes military judges and panels issue sentences that are unjust given the findings. Unfortunately, if this bill passes, the convening authority may no longer have the ability to change these inequities. In fact, the convening authority may not even have the ability to suspend sentences. Second, if this bill passes it may impact the convening authority’s ability to negotiate pre-trial agreements with those offering to plead guilty. If an accused is no longer able to get something in return for pleading guilty, it may mean that in some cases it may not be in his best interest to plead guilty…even if he is guilty. If you are facing a court-martial, you need someone defending you at trial that is experienced and will know how to help you under your specific circumstances. To speak to an experienced court-martial attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.