Anyone who enlists in the United States Armed Forces does so with the hope and expectation that, should he or she end up concluding the term of service under conditions other than retirement, he or she will receive an honorable discharge. The characterization of your own discharge from the military has the potential to determine your future success in civilian life, since an honorable discharge may actually help you to find employment, whereas a punitive discharge such as a bad conduct or dishonorable discharge is often viewed in the same light as a criminal conviction.
In the event that you have been accused of committing a crime during your time on active duty and are now facing the possibility of a court-martial, you are at risk of being given a bad conduct discharge or dishonorable discharge.
These types of discharge are reserved for especially serious offenses including:
In addition to the stigma associated with such a discharge, you would also most likely be deprived of your veterans benefits, in addition to the fact that a dishonorable discharge will deprive you of the right to own a firearm. In some cases, the goal of hiring a military criminal defense lawyer is to beat the charges entirely and to allow the service member to remain in the Armed Forces, while in other cases the target is to negotiate with the prosecutor for a less harsh outcome such as an administrative discharge.
Even if you have been given an other-than-honorable discharge, it may be possible for you to improve the situation by filing a petition with the Discharge Review Board. The Board hears appeals which are filed within 15 years of the date when the petitioner was separated from the service. It is necessary to demonstrate that the undesirable characterization of your discharge was caused by some type of mistake or a miscarriage of justice. It is also possible to seek redress after a bad conduct discharge by requesting clemency.
Contact McCormack & McCormack for a free case evaluation to discuss your options.