When Does the Military Maintain Jurisdiction Over a Legal Matter?

Understanding which laws govern your case.

No one wants to find themselves in the situation where they are accused of a crime and need a criminal lawyer in Las Vegas. This is especially true for anyone that is in the military. It can be confusing right off the bat just trying to understand who has jurisdiction. And then there is the arrest and possible conviction that can significantly influence your military career in addition to the civilian legal penalties that you face.

Understanding Military Jurisdiction

Anyone that is on active duty or is undergoing inactive –duty training is under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). If a military member is active, in the reserves or retired, they can fall under the UCMJ and its guidelines. However, there is an exception for those serving in the Army National Guard or the Air National Guard. Unless they are performing their Federal service (they’ve been called up), they are not under the UCMJ. So essentially if you are in boot camp, advanced training, on active duty or reserve from active duty, you are held accountable under the UMJ.

Worldwide Jurisdiction

One of the most important things to note is that the Uniform Code of Military Justice has jurisdiction at home and abroad. It does not matter where you are stationed, that code governs. In fact, this is why a code is needed in the first place. Since U.S. citizens cannot be regulated by U.S. laws abroad, the military code creates consistency for service members regardless of where they are physically located.

Who Will Try You: Military or Civilian Court

This is where it can get complicated and why it is wise to have an attorney that can handle your case both ways. As a civilian and military lawyer, Craig Drummond can represent you in both civilian and military courts. A former Captain in the U.S. JAG Corps, he understands military law, how it is interpreted and how it is applied so that you can receive the strongest possible defense. If the crime in question is specific to the military (compromising the mission etc.) you will be tried in military court without question. If, however, you are accused of committing a crime that is applicable to anyone, you could be tried in military court, civilian court or both. Typically speaking, you could have charges brought against you by both courts and they would then coordinate to determine who will prosecute you.

Warning: If you are tried in civilian court, your case is not over once a verdict is levied. You could still be punished by the military, even if the charges were dropped. Most civilian lawyers would have no understanding of how to handle this situation so you need an attorney who can handle both. A perfect example would be someone arrested and tried for a DUI in civilian court. The charges could be reduced to reckless driving but the military could still impose fines, require mandatory treatment, etc., regardless of what the civilian court does.

Legal Disclaimer
The content presented on this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended as professional legal advice and should not be construed as such. The information contained herein may not be current and is subject to change without notice. Readers are advised to seek formal legal counsel before taking any actions based on the information or opinions expressed on this site. Any reliance on the material contained within this blog is at the reader's own risk.