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Military Justice Myths

Breaking Down the Myths about Military Justice

Military justice is often surrounded by myths and misconceptions. Understanding the facts is crucial to correct misconceptions and grasp how the military justice system operates.

MYTH #1:
Military justice is the same as civilian justice.

Fact: One of the biggest misconceptions about military justice is that it operates in the same way as civilian justice. While both systems are designed to uphold the law and ensure justice, there are significant differences between the two.

The military has its own set of laws known as the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which is specific to the military and applies to all branches. The UCMJ outlines the rules that govern military personnel and provides a unique framework for handling legal matters within the military community. There are also a vast number of regulations and instructions that impact all aspects of the military justice system.

MYTH #2:
I can’t fight my case because my command told me there’s a lot of evidence against me.

Fact: Without actually seeing the evidence and consulting with an attorney, you can’t be certain about the best way to approach your case. There are a lot of laws, rules, and evidentiary standards that govern all the different types of actions you may be facing, from court-martial, to administrative separation, to an Article 15/NJP, to other adverse actions.

The people that may be telling you these things do not have the level of experience in the military justice system that a trained attorney does. At KMD, we have gotten cases where our clients were told the odds were insurmountable, only to have the privilege of standing next to them while a military jury reads the words “not guilty.” Don’t believe everything your command tells you.

MYTH #3:
If I’m a good enough Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, Guardian, or Coastguardsman, my command will sweep it under the rug.

Fact: No matter how upstanding an individual servicemember is, it is not likely that allegations of misconduct will be swept under the rug. This is particularly true in circumstances where the chain of command no longer has decision-making authority as of 27 December 2023. In other circumstances, such as substantiated drug use, the command must take certain actions regardless of how good a record the servicemember has.

However, the quality of a person’s record can have a big effect in fighting the allegations in whatever forum they’re being litigated. It can also have a big impact on leniency in the event the person is found to have committed misconduct. Importantly, while you are under investigation and facing allegations, you must continue to perform at the highest levels. Lowering your standards or committing more offenses will only hurt your case.

MYTH #4:
Military justice only punishes minor offenses.

Fact: Some believe that military justice only deals with minor offenses, such as insubordination or unauthorized absence, and is not capable of handling serious crimes. This is a misconception. The military justice system has the capacity to handle a wide range of offenses, from minor infractions to serious crimes, including murder, sexual assault, and espionage. In fact, military courts-martial can impose severe penalties, including lengthy imprisonment and a dishonorable discharge, for serious offenses.

MYTH #5:
Military court is not “real court.”

Fact: The military justice system is a federal court system. The UCMJ is a set of federal laws. That means that someone convicted in the military justice system has a federal conviction. This is why it is extremely important to find an attorney who is very familiar with the military justice system. You likely want to find someone who practices exclusively military law.

MYTH #6:
Getting an attorney will make them think I am guilty.

Fact: A lot of people think when someone “lawyers up” it must show that they are guilty. This is not true. Generally, the people who are charged with making decisions in your case are higher-ranking with a lot of military experience, or they are trained lawyers. They know why someone may need an attorney to help them navigate difficult and complex situations.

MYTH #7:
Military law enforcement must be truthful when they are speaking to me.

Fact: Absolutely not. Many people are shocked to learn that military investigators, such as those in AFOSI, NCIS, and CID are authorized and often encouraged to flat out lie when they are interrogating you. We have seen interviews where agents will drop 100 pages of blank paper onto a table and claim that it is “proof” someone was sexually assaulted. We have cross-examined special agents who made up lies about their own relationships to convince a client to admit to domestic violence. There are too many stories to continue to list them here.

The bottom line is that military law enforcement can and does lie during an interrogation to get you to admit to doing what you were accused of. If you are read your Article 31(b) rights, invoke your right to remain silent and contact us immediately.

MYTH #8:
If I cooperate with investigators, they can recommend that the command and prosecutors go easy on me.

Fact: This is a LIE that AFOSI, NCIS, CID, and other investigating agencies  tell you to get you to waive your constitutional right to remain silent. None of those agencies make any form of recommendation to your command or to prosecutors about how your case should be handled. They are trying to get you to say anything that will incriminate you, which may cause you to be in a worse position than if you had chosen to remain silent.

MYTH #9:
I can’t be taken to court-martial based on someone’s statement because that is just “hearsay.”

Fact: Many people believe that they can’t be convicted on the basis of “he said, she said” evidence. It’s important to remember: TESTIMONY IS EVIDENCE.

That means a person can be convicted based solely on the testimony of a single accuser that the person committed a crime. Such testimony is not considered “hearsay.” This is why it is so important to contact someone who has experience  developing a case strategy, digging for evidence, litigating trial motions, and cross-examining an accuser.

MYTH #10:
Someone who has been drinking cannot consent.

Fact: Sexual assault is a complex area of the law. Article 120, UCMJ has many different types of offenses that someone can be charged with. Many of these accusations involve drinking alcohol. The bottom line is that people who have been drinking can consent. The facts of each case vary widely. In a court-martial, the Defense often needs a forensic psychologist to provide testimony about alcohol, memory, and blackouts, which is essential to educating the jury panel.

MYTH #11:
If I delete my internet history and messages on my phone, use an encrypted app, or do a search in incognito mode, investigators can’t find it.

Fact: When your phone is seized by law enforcement , they usually immediately take a forensic copy of your phone through a machine called a Cellebrite. These machines can pull deleted data to a certain extent. If they want more information than what the Cellebrite can pull, then your phone can be sent to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory (USACIL) to be forensically extracted. A full forensic extraction can reveal information that has been deleted. USACIL can also do a forensic extraction of your computer, which can also recover deleted information.

Frequently, law enforcement pulls the records from another person’s phone during an investigation, such as the person accusing you of a crime. Those records can then be used against you, even if you have deleted the information from your own phone.

If someone is using an allegedly “secure” method of engaging in an internet crime , it is likely that there is an investigator on the other side of the chat recording everything that is typed. In those instances, investigators do not need the person’s cell phone or computer.

MYTH #12:
My commander initiating an administrative discharge proceeding means I am getting kicked out no matter what.

Fact: Clients are often told before they have even been served any paperwork that they are going to be separated. These types of statements usually come from a senior enlisted member or a legal officer, neither of whom make the ultimate decision in your case.

Whether you are facing a notification administrative separation, administrative separation board or discharge board, or a Board of Inquiry, there is a process that must be followed before you can be separated. The amount of due process varies at each of these proceedings, but there are always legal standards and higher-level review.

MYTH #13:
A positive urinalysis results in an automatic discharge because of the “zero tolerance” policy.

Fact: Zero tolerance applies to knowing, wrongful ingestion of a controlled substance. In every case, the Government must prove that drug use was both knowing and wrongful. There are many ways to fight a positive urinalysis .

MYTH #14:
I can apply for an automatic discharge upgrade in six months.

Fact: This is one of the most common myths we hear. There is no window of time for someone to wait to file a discharge upgrade, though there are times that it might be better to wait due to a specific reason. There is also no such thing as an automatic upgrade. The application process can be intense, complex, and lengthy.

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*Please note, KMD does not handle cases involving the Department of Veterans Affairs, disability claims, or family law matters.

Found myself in an unfortunate situation where I was in need of a lawyer. Luckily when I did a google search Kral Military Defense was the first website to pop up. If you are willing to fight for your name and career, then look no further Kral Military Defense is who you want on your side. Stephaine and her team are very knowledgeable and professional.
Kral Military Defenses has my highest recommendation! If you are a service member and need an attorney who is responsive, intelligent, and treats you like a person, not just a number. She is the attorney for you.I was on deployment when I needed an attorney. Kral Military Defense took care of my legal affairs while I was out to sea. It was a weight off my shoulders knowing she was handling my situation back home while I was gone.When my chain of command was putting unnecessary limitations on my liberty because of my legal situation. She went above and beyond by contacted my ship and was able to get them lifted.Kral Military Defense was able to resolve my situation with no action taken against myself. If I ever need of a defense attorney ever again I'm 100% coming back to Kral Military Defense.
matthew larason
matthew larason
My local Military Defense Counsel is very short staffed so I had trouble getting a hold of them. Not wanting to wait I contacted Ms. Danielle Espinosa over the weekend and she was able to help review and discuss my response with me before it was due Monday. She was extremely knowledgeable, cut the fluff and told me like it was. I recommend anyone serious about the future of their Military Career to work with this team. Thank you for your help!
When I retained Ms. Kral, I was a nervous wreck. As she worked with me over the course of 18 months, she was compassionate and was able to assure me that I would have a future. Even my command JAG assured me I’d be alright when I hired her. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome with my case. Ms. Kral should be your choice if you need a military defense attorney.
Chad S.
Chad S.
Abbigayle Hunter and her legal team, especially Danielle Espinosa, were exceptional! The communication was prompt, professional, and thorough. From the moment we reached out to them, they showed a genuine interest in understanding our case and providing us with the best legal representation possible.Abbigayle Hunter and Danielle Espinosa, went above and beyond to ensure that we were kept informed throughout the entire legal process. They promptly responded to our emails and phone calls, addressing any concerns or questions we had. Their attention to detail and extensive knowledge of the law instilled confidence in us that we were in capable hands.Not only did Abbigayle Hunter and her team provide us with excellent communication, but they also displayed a remarkable level of expertise. They meticulously examined every aspect of our case, leaving no stone unturned. Their dedication and commitment to our case were evident in the meticulous research they conducted, the thorough documentation they prepared, and the persuasive arguments they presented.Abbigayle Hunter not only possessed an impressive understanding of the law but also had excellent negotiation skills. Her tirelessly advocated on our behalf, ensuring that our interests were protected and our rights were upheld. Their ability to navigate complex legal matters and maneuver through any obstacles that arose was truly remarkable.
Rufus Byrd
Rufus Byrd
Stephanie and her team were AMAZING! I found her through a mutual friend and she handled my case with care and compassion. Even her team checked on me, answered all my questions I had, overall she made sure everything was token care of during the ENTIRE process! When she told me “don’t you worry, that’s my job” I truly believe her and in the end she got the results that I am so grateful for! Hopefully I won’t have to go through the process again but if I have to she will most definitely be the woman I WILL call on! Thank you so much Stephanie and Danielle you both made this process a lot less stressful with your knowledge and compassion towards me and my case!!!
Steph and her team worked diligently to ensure all evidence or lack there of was thoroughly examined. Her knowledge and experience within the military justice system gave me piece of mind throughout the process as she was well versed in the way everything played out. My family and I are grateful for the hard work and professionalism displayed by everyone on her team. Thank you!
Jonathon Lynch
Jonathon Lynch
Hiring Steph has been the greatest thing for my career. In the last year alone I have had horrible encounters with my immediate chain of command and twice I had the best outcome given the circumstances. I highly recommend Steph.
Eva Aguilar
Eva Aguilar
Steph was the first and clear choice to handle my ADSEP board. I was facing serious allegations, which she handled with professionalism while keeping me posted along the way. Her expertise in UCMJ matters is second to none. Without her I would have probably lost my retirement benefits.
Called on behalf of a veteran who is terminally ill regarding a discharge upgrade and spoke to their assistant Christian. Christian was so unbelievably rude and spoke to me like I'm an idiot when he was unable to answer the questions I had about their services and the process. The level of disrespect from him totally caught me off guard given the nature of work the office is supposed to be doing. What's more upsetting is the lack of empathy that he displayed during our conversation. Unfortunately, I can't not speak on the level of service from the attorneys since we decided to go with someone else but Christian either needs to undergo more training or he needs to be replaced.
Desiree M.
Desiree M.
Stephanie is very experienced and a great attorney.
Jameel Yusuf
Jameel Yusuf
There are many things that I could say about this particular law firm, but instead of going into the weeds on my particular case, I feel as though brevity would be the best choice here. I was primarily represented by Ms. Abbigayle Hunter, and in short, I believe the representation by Ms. Hunter was above reproach. I couldn’t have asked for a better legal professional to handle the complexities of my particular case. She was transparent, punctual, and actually made me feel as though she was personally invested, despite the fact that she had already been paid for representation. She didn’t sugarcoat hard truths and was very up front about all different aspects relating to my case. It was comforting in a way that she was also a fellow service member, and it made me feel as though she took this case to heart and it added another level of drive to the case. Ms. Hunter has a certain tenacity in the courtroom that I found very refreshing to witness, and I would strongly recommend her to anyone else seeking legal advice. Would actively seek to be represented by her again, though also hoping it’s never needed.
Tim Malikie
Tim Malikie
Outstanding!!!! She's very smart, knows her job, and communicates with you all the time with the best of her knowledge. I highly recommend Kral Military Defense!!!
Jamal Stephens
Jamal Stephens
After my command refused to give me due process, I was lost for words and truly had no where to turn. A shipmate referred me to Steph and it was the best possible recommendation I have ever received. Reliable, expert, professional and overall just a great person. She never lost sight of my case and would check in on me to ensure I was doing good personally. I highly recommend her services to anyone who may have a legal issue. At minimum, request a consultation. I can assure that you will not be dissatisfied!
Vincent Hurtado
Vincent Hurtado
Highly recommend Steph! Thank you for all your hard work and fighting for righteousness. My family and I will be forever grateful!
Selena Hurtado
Selena Hurtado
Great team! After hiring this legal team i was pleased with their work and their ability to go above and beyond resulting in a finding of not guilty.
Tyson Smith
Tyson Smith
Very easy to talk to. Will get you the best outcome there is
I wish you could give more than 5 stars. She deserves 10!! This was a huge decision for our child, but she was worth every penny and more. As a mom I was really concerned about him spending the money on an attorney since you never know what you’re going to get. Our child mentioned this to Stephanie and she called me to answer all my questions. She went above and beyond what was required of her, not just with the phone call but with everything she did. The case went on for longer than we had ever imagined. She never wavered in her dedication. I was honestly shocked at just how hard she worked. If only I could express in words the heart felt gratitude, we feel towards her. She fought so hard and we knew we could trust decisions she made. When ever our child would update us, we would ask what Stephanie thought. We never could have imagined finding an attorney who we trust as much as we trust her. I don’t believe you will find an attorney who will fight as hard for you as she will. I consider her a part of our family and am so very blessed to have gotten to know her. She’s an amazing attorney and an even more amazing human being.
Shelly B.
Shelly B.
Stephanie was a great attorney as well as her team they helped me through my entire CID investigation and got me a no basis separation. Every question I had was answered in the upmost professional manner. I highly recommend that you retain her defense team for any case that you have. She’s attacks every case in a manner that leaves everyone with a reasonable doubt.
This was a life changing decision.I spent hours searching for and calling several attorneys. Some didn't give me the time of day, others just seemed cold. Mrs. Kral was the only attorney I called who actually seemed to care. And not only that but she listened me and gave an honest opinion. Usually you feel that attorneys only care about money but I never once felt that from Mrs. Kral. She took a personal interest in my case and brought not only her extensive knowledge of the law, but also her fierce attitude and relentless perseverance. She never missed a beat and always had a way forward. She also has excellent communication skills and took the time to explain everything to me at every step. I felt hopeless until we met. Now I can move on with my life and move forward with everything behind me because of how valiantly she fought. I truly think that if you decide to choose Kral Military Defense to fight for you then you'll never feel disappointed. If I could give more than 5 stars then I would. Because she's not like other attorneys. She will always have your back and keep your best interests at heart. If you take away anything from this review, let it be this: You want someone behind you that is willing to fight for you as if you were their own and also has the strength and knowledge to be successful. Don't pass up the opportunity to increase your chances and decrease your stress.
Evan Giancola
Evan Giancola
The team at Kral Military Defense is very approachable, knowledgeable, and dedicated. I was facing an LOR due to the results of an investigation conducted by the military. The team at Kral Military Defense reviewed the report of investigation and was able to craft an excellent rebuttal to the charges. Ultimately, the leadership decided to rescind the LOR . The whole team, Steph, Danielle, ,Abby, and Chris were very responsive to my questions and requests through the whole process. If you ever find yourself in any sort of legal situation in the military I highly recommend that you contact them and put them in your corner!
Stephanie was very knowledgeable and despite me being so anxious about my case helped me through it and got an innocent verdict within 6 minutes of the board being adjourned. So very grateful for her and my JAG for helping me out and highly recommend hiring Stephanie especially if you are military.
Andrew Compton
Andrew Compton
This law firm it worth every penny. Mrs. Danielle is an amazing women. She is kind and warm hearted and professional. She will make sure she understands you very well and will fights tooth and nail for you. Mrs. Abby is phenomenal. Mrs. Abby's Knowledge is deep and spot on. Mrs. Abby knows what to do and if she's not sure about UCMJ she'll make sure she does within your next call. Both these ladies are top-tier lawyer and paralegal. And I will always recommend these two to others for the duration of their long careers. Christian was a great guy and made sure all information was pushed up to them in a timely manner he's a hidden gem. They fight the good fight. Do not doubt them and work with them and they'll do their best and more.
Peter Petracca
Peter Petracca
Kral Military Defense has been absolutely amazing to me. Their whole team is very easy to work with and does such an amazing job. Kral defense was referred to me by JAGS I used to work with and I would absolutely 110% recommend and refer them to anyone in need of assistance. They have made my whole situation stress free and easy.
Kyle Lewis
Kyle Lewis
Steph and her team helped me to get a positive outcome during my NJP process. As soon I heard my case was going to captain mast, I googled military lawyer's and her name came up. With her experience as a former active duty Jag, her team truly understands the military system and what commands can and cannot do. With just a week to prepare for the NJP, her team got me templates that made the process easier. Her wording in her official letter to my command made it hard for the command to process several charges. This team is professional and know what they are doing. Hopefully I am never in this position again, but if so Kral Military Defense will be my first call.
James Johnson
James Johnson

About The Firm

Kral Military Defense defends members of America's military throughout the world. We do not maintain physical office space in the traditional sense. Instead, we offer secure video and telephone consultations and meet with current clients, as needed, at home and abroad.

Office Location

3111 Camino Del Rio N.
Suite 400
San Diego, CA 92108

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Nothing on this site should create an expectation of any particular outcome or result. Every case is unique.

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