Court Martial Defense Lawyers
Our hard hitting criminal defense lawyers have the experience and firepower necessary to level the playing field.
Our team of civilian military defense lawyers aggressively defend Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps servicemembers worldwide. Our military attorneys represent clients and fight court martial cases throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific Rim (Korea, Hawaii, Japan).
We also represent military clients that are under investigation by CID, OSI, and NCIS with the objective of avoiding criminal charges. Founded and led by Michael Waddington, our law firm is one of the most experienced and successful team of military attorneys in the world.
Sexual Assault in the Military
Currently, due to political pressure, many servicemembers are being persecuted by overzealous law enforcement, JAGs, and politically correct commands. Many will do whatever it takes to convict you and send you to jail. If you are accused of a sexual offense, then you must hire the best sex assault defense lawyer possible to aggressively fight for your freedom and reputation. Your life depends on it. If you rely on a free military lawyer to save your life, then you are rolling the dice. When you gamble, you usually lose. The house wins. Here, the house is the military.
When it comes to military sexual assault and rape cases, our results and experience are unmatched. Contact us to discuss your case!
We invite you to compare our case results with ANY lawyers worldwide, civilian or military. We also provide references on request.
What are the Real Costs of a Court Martial Conviction? – Learn why a quick plea deal may not be in your best interests.
High Profile Cases
Mr. Waddington has successfully defended numerous serious sexual assault cases and high profile court martial cases arising from the War on Terror. He has been reported on and quoted by hundreds of major media sources worldwide and provided consultation services to 60 Minutes, ABC Nightline, CNN, CBS, the 2010-2011 Golden Globe winning TV series The Good Wife” and other international media outlets.
In a Court Martial, What Am I Up Against?
In the military justice system, the Prosecution has numerous attorneys and paralegals working hard to put you in prison for as long as possible. The accused is often scared, overwhelmed, and feels helpless, and they should be. The deck is stacked against them. That is what the military wants. Defendants believe that they have no choice but to quickly plead guilty.
PLEADING GUILTY SHOULD BE A LAST RESORT! YET, SOME MILITARY & CIVILIAN DEFENSE LAWYERS PLEAD ALL OF THEIR CLIENTS GUILTY, EVEN WHEN THEY HAVE A FIGHTING CHANCE OR THEY ARE INNOCENT.
ASK YOUR PROSPECTIVE CIVILIAN OR MILITARY LAWYER TO DESCRIBE THE DETAILS & OUTCOMES OF THE LAST 12 CASES THEY DEFENDED. ASK HOW MANY OF THIER CLIENTS WERE ACQUITTED, HOW MANY WERE NOT DISCHARGED FROM THE MILITARY, & HOW MANY CASES THEY FOUGHT IN FRONT OF A JURY.Click here to see Mr. Waddington’s Recent Case Results
BEWARE – RED FLAG:
If your free military lawyer DOES NOT want you to hire an experienced civilian lawyer, be very cautious. Your military lawyer should want as much legal firepower as possible on your team. Many military lawyers try to persuade the accused to not hire a civilian because of ego or because they want to force you into a quick and easy guilty plea.
The military has a conviction rate over 90% and almost all convicted defendants are discharged from the military and sent to prison.
When you plead guilty, you have over a 95% chance of going to jail, getting a punitive discharge from the military, losing your rank, & you are GUARANTEED to be a Federal convict for the rest of your life. If you want to discuss fighting your case, call our military attorneys to discuss your options.
Take a look at what you are up against & why you need a hard hitting, fearless civilian defense lawyer fighting for you (these observations are based on Mr. Waddington’s personal experience in court martials worldwide):
- Government prosecution team members usually outnumber your assigned military defense team 5 to 1. They will often manipulate every aspect of the case and fight hard to deprive you of your ability to mount a legal defense. Some will use underhanded tactics to win. You must level the playing field with a battle tested defense lawyer.
- The accused is often denied requested delays and continuances so that they can prepare for courts martial, Article 32′s, and boards.
- Some prosecutors will acquire the testimony of witnesses by offering them immunity, plea deals, and favors, so long as the witnesses help the prosecution win their case & say what they want them to say. You need a lawyer that can destroy lying witnesses and uncover corrupt prosecutors and perjured testimony.
- Almost always, the accused is denied expert assistance, even when the prosecution has numerous expert witnesses in the same area. Commonly, the prosecutor and SJA play a key role in ensuring that the accused is denied expert assistance. The accused is usually forced to beg the judge for the same experts that the Government has and that is often denied as well. The accused must have an attorney with the experience and skill to win a case without defense experts, if necessary.
- Military prosecutors often use the “shotgun approach” to charging. Their strategy is simple, charge a military service member with as many charges as possible, and they will have no choice but to plead guilty. It is not uncommon for a court martial charge sheet to be 3 pages long, usually with the same conduct charged over and over again, in a variety of ways.
- The Government has virtually unlimited financial resources and some prosecutors will try to win at all costs.
- CID, OSI, NCIS, & other military investigators are trained to use lies, trickery, & deceit, & they are good at it. Their official training courses teach them to use “Liars, Trickery, & Deceit” to get the job done. They will get away with as much lying as the defense lawyer will allow. You need a lawyer that can expose their lying, deceptive ways, & turn it to your advantage at trial. NEVER TRUST A CID, OSI, or NCIS AGENT if you are a suspected of a crime or being “interviewed” by an investigator. Don’t trust a military lawyer that claims to be “friends” with OSI, CID, or NCIS. You will live to regret it, after you get out of military prison.
- The Government has its own staff of criminal investigators (CID, NCIS, OSI, MPI, etc.) trying to dig up dirt to use against you. They will almost always overlook, misplace, or hide evidence that helps your case. At trial, they will take innocent facts and twist them to make you look guilty.
- Rank often plays a role in the outcome of your case. Almost always, the Judge, the Chief of Military Justice, the Staff Judge Advocate (SJA), most of the jury, the Convening Authority (the person that picks the jury and decides whether or not you will be court martialed), the Article 32 officer, the chain of command, and virtually every person that makes a decision in your case will outrank you and your assigned Military Lawyer. An aggressive civilian defense lawyer is not subject to rank.
- The Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) is the convening authority’s (CA) legal advisor. The SJA has a duty to be fair, neutral, and impartial when giving advice. The SJA’s role is “justice.” The reality is, to many SJA’s, “justice” means a conviction, hard jail time, and a discharge. The SJA is the boss, senior supervisor, and rater of the prosecutor. They are not looking out for your freedom and your family’s welfare. They are not neutral. Most SJA’s actively strategize with their prosecutors on how to convict the defendant and maximize his jail time. Many SJAs admonish their prosecutors when they lose a case. Some SJAs will put pressure on your military lawyer to get their way
- In the Air Force, the “neutral” SJA will almost always refuse to allow Article 32 testimony to be recorded and/or transcribed, unless it will help their case. They will often stop the Article 32 hearing if the defense lawyers attempt to record the testimony at their own expense, even in cases where the accused faces LIFE in prison. Refusing to record hearings in Felony cases is unheard of in civilian and other military courts. In a recent rape Article 32 at Dover AFB, the defense was forbidden from using a tape recorder to record the hearing and from transcribing the hearing at their own expense. The prosecutor, Captain Andrew Cherkasky and the SJA, fought against the recording. The stated reason was that the defense would use the transcript at trial to impeach the alleged “victim” if she changed her story. Does this sound fair?
- Some SJA offices will proceed to trial on baseless charges even when the Article 32 investigating officer finds that the charges are not supported by the facts.
- In a court martial, the prosecution can call any witnesses they want. They don’t have to tell the accused what the witness will say. On the other hand, the defense, in order to have witnesses brought to court martial, must disclose to the prosecution exactly what the witnesses will say (in writing) and what role that testimony will have in the defense. Some judges require the defense to disclose even more details to the prosecution. This often reveals the entire defense strategy. In the end, after the prosecution learns the defense strategy, they can then pick and choose which defense witnesses will be brought to the court martial.
- In some cases (especially high profile court martial cases), extreme pressure will be put on the military defense lawyer to “not rock the boat” or “burn bridges.”
- Military defense lawyers are forbidden (by the military, not their State Legal Bar Associations) to speak or deal with the media, even if they speak the truth and it will help their client get a fair trial. They must get “permission” from their senior boss, an O-6 in Washington, DC, in order to be able to respond to negative or false press. The prosecution often releases harmful and unfounded information to the media when they file charges. In the Army, defense lawyers are even more restricted. During the high profile Bagram Prison Abuse court martials of 2005-2006, Mr. Waddington (then an Army lawyer) successfully fought false Government accusations in the media. It embarrassed the military, exposed a bogus prosecution, and revealed that the Pentagon sanctioned detainee abuse and then court martialed soldiers for carrying out their orders. In Dec 2005, in the middle of the Bagram trials, Army TDS leadership rewrote their policy and made it nearly impossible for an Army TDS lawyer to defend against negative press.
BOTTOM LINE: IF YOU WANT A FAIR SHAKE IN THE MILITARY JUSTICE SYSTEM, THEN YOU NEED A FEARLESS LAWYER TO FIGHT FOR IT.
RECENT CASE RESULTS
THESE RECENT CASES SHOW THAT IN THE MILITARY, THE DEFENDANT IS GUILTY UNLESS & UNTIL HE CAN PROVE HIS INNOCENCE, ESPECIALLY IN A SEX ASSAULT CASE.
The accused needs the highest powered defense possible, even if he is innocent. Otherwise, his rights will be trampled and he may end up in jail.
To the Government, innocence does not matter. It is not relevant. What matters is winning convictions and statistics. The military must prove to Congress and lobbyists that they take sexual assault seriously. To prove this, they need AS MANY MEN CONVICTED OF SEX CRIMES AS POSSIBLE. Congress and the Military need sex crime convictions in order to justify the more than $100 million a year they now spend prosecuting sex crimes in the military. DON’T BECOME A STATISTIC WITHOUT A FIGHT!
U.S. v. Army O-4 – Fort Carson, Colorado
Client was accused of mishandling SECRET documents in Iraq and allegedly trying to smuggle the documents out of the FOB, back to the US. Mr. Waddington fought this case at a Show Cause Board with attorney CPT Rheanna Felton.
Result: Retained on Active Duty
U.S. v. Army E-4 – Fort Carson, Colorado
Client was charged with raping a fellow soldier and committing an aggravated sexual assault (and assault and battery) on another female soldier. He was also charged with violating a no contact order imposed by his commander, to not contact one of the alleged victims.
Mr. Waddington along with CPT Jeremy Horn and CPT Melissa Desgupta-Smith fought the charges in front of an officer and enlisted jury.
Result: NOT GUILTY OF ALL SEX CHARGES, Guilty of violating no contact order
Sentence: NO jail time, NO sex offender registration, NO discharge, 60 days restriction, forfeiture of pay, reduction to E-1Read the full story
U.S. v. Air Force E-3 – MacDill AFB, Tampa, FL
Client was accused of sexually assaulting the wife of a fellow Airman on two occasions. Mr. Waddington was hired after the case was docketed for trial. We were able to negotiate a plea deal that saved client from a Federal Conviction and Sex Offender registration.
Result: ALL SEX CHARGES dropped. Case was sent to a SCM so long as client admitted to assault. A Summary Court does not give the client a criminal record.
Sentence: NO sex offender registration, NO Federal conviction, NO discharge, 30 days of confinement, reduction to E-1
U.S. v. Marine O-3 – Marine Forces Reserve, New Orleans, LA
U.S. v. Marine O-3 – Marine Forces Reserve, Naval Support Activity, New Orleans, LA – A married female Marine officer accused our client of rape. Our client took and passed two polygraphs. The alleged “victim” did not take a polygraph.Read the full story
Result: ALL SEX CHARGES dropped. Case was sent to a Special Court – Misdemeanor Level – for Adultery and Conduct Unbecoming
Sentence: NO sex offender registration, NO felony conviction, NO jail time, Restriction for 60 days, Forfeitures
U.S. v. Air Force E-4 – Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, AZ
Client was accused of rape and aggravated sexual assault. The prosecution double charged him although sex occurred once.
This allegation was made months after the sex, while the “victim” was facing discharge from the military.
RESULT: Mr. Waddington traveled to Tucson for the trial.Read the full story
ALL CHARGES DISMISSED ON THE EVE OF TRIAL
U.S. v. Army O-3 – Fort Jackson, SC
Client was the Company Commander of a Basic Training Company. He was accused by three different female trainees of sexual assault as well as charges of fraternization, violation of a regulation, conduct unbecoming and officer, and sexual harassment. In addition to the alleged victims, a number of other soldiers came forward to testify against our client. Our client also made a statement to CID that did not help his case. (Because of the sensitivity of the case, we are not including details, but the facts were not good for the defense). Our objective was to avoid a sex offender registration and jail time.
Mr. Waddington and CPT Jim Sleesman defended this challenging case in front of an officer jury. The Commanding General stacked the jury with his most senior Combat Arms officers (mostly Infantry LTC Battalion Commanders) and appointed his Chief of Staff to be the President of the jury. Waddington and Sleesman confronted the three alleged victims one by one, disproving their stories. In the end, our client was acquitted of all sex charges and 70% of the other allegations. He was convicted of violating a regulation and one count of assault & battery.
Result: NOT GUILTY OF ALL SEX CHARGES, Convicted of other minor offenses Sentence: Dismissal, NO jail time, NO sex offender registration
U.S. v. Army E-8 – SOUTHCOM, Miami, El Salvador, Fort Sam Houston, TX
Client was a Special Forces soldier accused of violently raping and sodomizing a Salvadoran housekeeper. There was allegedly physical evidence, DNA evidence and numerous eyewitnesses that supported the claim. The El Salvadoran Government wanted our client in jail. To appease the Salvadorans, the American Government spared no expense to win this case. It became an international incident between the US & Salvadorans and Not Guilty was not an option for the US Government.
Result: NOT GUILTY OF ALL CHARGESRead the full story
U.S. v. Navy E-5 – Rota Navy Base, Spain – Client accused of sexually assaulting a female sailor, tax evasion, fraud, aggravated assault on another female, indecent language, and other offenses. We plead not guilty and fought the charges.
Result: NOT GUILTY OF ALL CHARGES
U.S. v. Air Force E-3 – McGuire AFB, New Jersey
Client was accused of two Sexual Assault – Article 120 offenses (aggravated sexual assault and wrongful sexual contact). He was also charged with underage drinking. Our client faced over 31 years in prison. He was accused of going into a bathroom where a female airman had been vomiting and was supposedly unconscious and sexually assaulting her. Two Security Forces police officers claimed to have witnessed the crime and intervened.
Result: NOT GUILTY OF ALL SEX CHARGES. Guilty of Underage drinking.
Sentence: NO JAIL TIME, NO DISCHARGE, NO LOSS OF RANK, Reprimand and forfeiture of $200 x 4 monthsRead the full story
U.S. v. Air Force E-4 – Minot AFB, North Dakota – Client was accused of breaking into the home of a female that he had just met that day and raping her while she was unconscious. This was a tough case because the alleged victim and her friends all claimed that she was very drunk, that she was vomiting, that she could not walk, and that she was unconscious. They also claimed that the next day, our client confessed to the crimes and apologized.
Mr. Waddington fought this case with ADC Capt Todd Tilford. We were also assisted by the renowned forensic psychologist, Dr. Jeffrey Younggren.
When we started jury selection, we discovered that the jury was stacked with biased jurors. Several jurors and/or their family members were sex assault victims, one juror was a sex assault victim advocate and one was in law enforcement. We got down to 5 jurors and fought the charges in front of an enlisted panel.
Result: NOT GUILTY OF ALL CHARGES AND SPECIFICATIONS
U.S. v. Air Force O-5 – McGuire AFB, New Jersey – Lt Col client was accused of 9 specifications including adultery, indecent language towards female subordinates, unprofessional relationship with 3 subordinates, illegal use of a Government cell phone, and fraternizing with three lower enlisted subordinates. Our goal was to save his retirement, avoid lengthy jail time and to get a Not Guilty on the adultery. The client was married as was one subordinate. The evidence was overwhelming and included text messages, numerous witnesses, Facebook messages, a hotel receipt and phone records.
Mr. Waddington and ADC Capt Miguel Acosta fought the allegations in front of an officer jury. In the end, we were able to save his retirement and get a reasonable sentence (the prosecution asked for 6 months and a dismissal). He was found not guilty of adultery and the defense team convinced the judge to dismiss three additional charges. In sentencing, the Judge merged two of the other charges into one charge.
Punishment: NO DISMISSAL, 60 days in jail, forfeitures, and a reprimand.
U.S. v. Air Force E-4 – Eglin AFB, Florida
Client accused of violently raping, choking and threatening an Air Force Security Forces/Policewoman. After the alleged rape, he supposedly showed her a music video of a woman being raped, killed and eaten and threatened her. This alleged “victim” was very persuasive and could cry on demand. The problem was, she was lying. Our client maintained his innocence throughout the case.Read the full story
ALL CHARGES WERE DISMISSED.
Michael Waddington is a criminal defense lawyer defending service members worldwide at court martial and administrative separation boards. In the past year alone, he has successfully defended military personnel in Europe, the Middle East (Iraq, Kuwait), Central Asia (Afghanistan), the Pacific (Yongsan Korea, Camp Casey Korea, Okinawa Japan, Yokota Japan), and throughout the United States. Mr. Waddington has a reputation for being a fearless and hard hitting trial lawyer. He has successfully fought cases with overwhelming odds and drives a hard bargain when negotiating. Prosecutors don’t take a defense lawyer seriously unless they know that the lawyer has a history of taking cases to trial and winning.
Mr. Waddington has been involved in some of the most high profile cases arising from the War on Terror. He has extensive experience fighting against Military Prosecution “Teams” and winning. Mr. Waddington will personally handle your case from start to finish. He keeps his case load small and generally only takes cases were the client wants to fight the allegations.
Choosing a military defense attorney may be the most important decision that you will ever have to make. Do not go into a court martial or administrative separation board without carefully selecting your lawyer.
Our defense lawyers provide professional representation at General Court Martial (GCM), Special Court Martial (BCD Special), or Summary Court Martial (SCM). Working with your assigned counsel, we take the lead and develop the best strategy to protect your life, liberty and property.
Our attorneys can help defend your rights at separation boards & show cause boards. Mr. Waddington has successfully represented hundreds of service members facing administrative separation.
Click here for a guide to Army Discharge Upgrades, written by Michael Waddington. Our lawyers can help you with your military discharge upgrade and we can represent you in front of a discharge review board or in the preparation of your military discharge upgrade packet.