Reeds Solicitors have an excellent track record in the successful defence of members of the Armed Forces before a Court Martial.
We always work closely with our clients to ensure that every aspect of their defence is explored and prepared in detail, and that their case is presented to the Panel with the utmost care and precision.
We understand that the Court Martial process can be a daunting experience for any military personnel, but our experienced team always ensure that contact with their Solicitor and/or Barrister is available as frequently as possible; with regular appointments to not only prepare their defence, but also provide advice as to the nature of the Court Martial process itself.
One of our most recent successes before Court Martial involved the successful defence of a member of the armed forces for a sexual offence, where we provided representation from the very first court appearance right through to the conclusion of the Court Martial; securing an acquittal almost two years later.
Please see below some information that may assist you regarding this process.
If you are arrested by the service police in connection with an alleged military offence, you are entitled to have a legal representative present at your interview. All service police interviews must be conducted in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
It may be that the service police contact you, via your unit, asking you to attend for an interview, this is known as a voluntary interview. Your rights are exactly the same. You do not have to speak to the service police until you have received proper legal advice.
In either of these situations please contact us to request assistance.
Charging and the Service Prosecution Authority
The decision on whether to charge you with an offence is not the responsibility of the service police. Once the investigation has concluded your case will be referred to the Service Prosecution Authority who will make a recommendation to your Commanding Officer whether enough evidence exists to charge you and if so how the case should be dealt with. The final decision on whether to charge you rests with your Commanding Officer.
Court Martial Proceedings
Once your case is referred to Court Martial it will either be held at Court Martial Catterick or Court Martial Bulford. You should be allocated an assisting officer and receive details of your Preliminary Hearing Date. Regardless of who represented you at the police station, if you require our assistance please contact us and we can either represent you privately or apply for legal aid on your behalf.
Fees and Funding
To have a solicitor present at your service police interview is free of charge. The bill for our services is submitted to the Armed Forces Criminal Legal Aid Authority (AFCLAA).
If you are to face trial by Court Martial, either by election or referral, you will be entitled to legal aid paid for by AFCLAA. If you lodge an appeal to the Summary Appeal Court, your representation will again be funded by AFCLAA. In both these situations there is a possibility that you may be asked to contribute to your defence costs.
Should Legal aid not be available to you and whilst every case is different we give you the option of a fixed fee for most cases – so you know exactly how much you have to pay.
Please note any advice and assistance prior to any interview will be charged at an hourly rate.
June 2021 – Client SB
“‘Both Zoe Heron and Adrian Amer did a fantastic job and always advised me the best way possible. I couldn’t have asked for a better team if I tried. Thank you again so much for everything Zoe, it’s been a pleasure working with you and I know myself, my assisting officer and my welfare officer will all recommend you to anyone else needing assistance within the Royal Air Force.”
November 2020 – Client DC
“Hello Zoe, just received your email now, just wanted to say thankyou so much for everything you have done for me throughout this whole process. I really appreciate it”
Sexual Assault Investigation with the RMP and SPA
Our client was a Captain in the Army. After a letter of representations he was charged with an Armed Forces Offence of Misconduct through alcohol and not sexual assault. After instructing Counsel Derek Johashen of 36 The Crime Group, further representations were made for the matter to be dealt with at Unit Level and not Court Martial. This was successful. The following feedback is from our client’s wife:
“Thank you, thank you, thank you! As you can imagine, we talk about nothing else in our house, we were so ready to strap in and do Court Martial if we needed to as although we had heeded yours and Derek’s warnings. When we came to you last year, we were completely without hope and your words to me were “there is always a fight to be had”, I cannot tell you how much those words were what I needed to hear at that time and knowing we have had you in our corner has really given us the hope we have needed to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Everything changed for us when you got involved, and for me, it felt like I had someone to share a load that was drowning us. We shall never forget it and we will never hesitate to recommend you in future. I am really grateful to you for always being happy to treat us both as the client, I know it was unconventional but it kept us both sane, for your honesty and for always having a go for us.
An intolerable 9 months, but we are so ready to live our quiet, happy life again. It’s been emotional.”
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Court Martial?
The Court Martial is there to hear general criminal cases in England and Wales committed by members of the military. A Court Martial is similar to the way a Crown Court works, except the jury is known as the Panel and the judge is called the Judge Advocate. The Panel comprises anything between three to seven military personnel.
What are the powers of a Court Martial?
The Court Martial has powers which are similar to those of the Crown Court. It can hand down sentences such as fines, prison terms in civilian prisons, detention in a Military Corrective Training Centre (Colchester), expulsion from the military and a range of other punishments which can be arranged by a Commanding Officer.
Can I appeal against a Court Martial sentence?
Yes, there is a Court Martial Appeal Court which has the job of hearing appeals regarding decisions and sentences made by the Court Martial.
What sorts of offences can end up in a Court Martial?
The range of offences dealt with in a Court Martial is very wide and governed by the Armed Forces Act 2006.
It is often said that Court Martial sentences are harsh, but the sentences have to be considered in terms of both how serious the offences are, the potential threat to national security and the position of responsibility which members of the Armed Forces on active service have.
If something is a criminal offence in England and Wales, a serving member of the military can be brought before the Court Martial and tried for the offence, irrespective of where in the world the incident happened.
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