The Article 32 Investigation is an important proceeding and one of the first steps on the road to a general court-martial. This pre-court-martial investigation is an extensive evidentiary hearing conducted before a single investigating officer, typically a line officer but, depending on the circumstances, can be a judge advocate or even a military judge. The prosecution will attempt to show “probable cause” to support the charges they are bringing against the service member. The defense then has the opportunity to cross-examine government witnesses and other relevant witnesses to the case.
A successful defense at an Article 32 Investigation can compel the convening authority to not send the case to the court-martial and instead resolve the matter at a lower forum, or even dismiss the charges entirely. More commonly, however, the Article 32 Investigation is used to lay the foundation for a successful defense at trial. The hearing helps to lay the foundation for the motions practice and is also used to get government witnesses on the record – something that can be of strategic importance. After the hearing the Investigating Officer will forward his recommendation to the Convening Authority. This recommendation is non-binding, and it is not uncommon for an Investigating Officer to recommend dismissal of the charges and the Convening Authority to still refer the case to trial.
It is not uncommon for less experienced lawyers to not appreciate the importance of the Article 32 Investigation or how it can be used to advance the defense case. If you are facing serious military charges and are slated for an Article 32 Investigation as a prelude to a general court-martial, you need a talented and experienced military attorney on your side. William Cassara will aggressively defend your rights. Call toll-free (888) 288-3347 today for a free consultation.