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What is an Article 32 Preliminary Hearing?

An Article 32 Preliminary Hearing is conducted by an impartial preliminary hearing officer (judge advocate) who is responsible for examining all charges preferred against an accused before the case is referred to a general court-martial.

Before a charge can be referred to a General Court-Martial, the government must present all available evidence to an impartial Investigating Officer (IO). The purpose of an Article 32 Preliminary Hearing is to conduct a “Pretrial Preliminary Hearing” (pre Courts-Martial hearing) to inquire into the facts and substance of the accusation(s) set forth in the charges; to consider the form of the charges; and to determine what disposition should be made of the case in the interest of both justice and discipline.

The Article 32 Preliminary Hearings Offer A Powerful Opportunity for the Accused

An accused has the right to be present and participate in the Article 32 Investigation hearing. The Article 32 hearing provides the accused and his or her attorney(s) a powerful opportunity to review the government’s evidence and to even present evidence in defense to the charges. The accused and defense counsel are informed of the charges, the details of the investigation, witness statements, and have the opportunity, if desired, to cross-examine witnesses and present evidence on the accused’s behalf.

An accused has the right to be present and participate in the Article 32 Preliminary Hearing. The Article 32 hearing provides the accused and his or her attorney(s) a powerful opportunity to review the government’s evidence and to even present evidence in defense to the charges. The accused and defense counsel are informed of the charges, the details of the Preliminary Hearing, witness statements, and have the opportunity, if desired, to cross-examine witnesses and present evidence on the accused’s behalf.

What this means is that the Article 32 hearing is an excellent opportunity for the accused and defense team to learn the strengths and weaknesses of the government’s case. Moreover, the accused and defense counsel have a window of opportunity to present facts and evidence, when appropriate, and to attempt to persuade the Investigating Officer (IO) to recommend to the convening authority that some or all of the charges be dismissed, reduced to a lesser offense, and/or that the charges be referred to either a Special Court-Martial, Summary-Court Martial, or an Article 15 NJP/Captain’s Mast.

The Accused Can Defend Against Charges at the Article 32 Stage

An Article 32 Preliminary Hearing is one of the most important steps in the entire process of fighting charges brought by one’s command. In some cases, an Article 32 Preliminary Hearing could be more important than the actual Court-Martial trial itself – especially if the defense can persuade the convening authority that the charges should be dismissed, be reduced, or be resolved through a lesser forum.

It is critical to have a highly experienced military criminal defense attorney involved in your case early on. Although you will be appointed a detailed military attorney to your case at no expense to you, it is always in your best interests to retain a highly qualified Civilian Defense Attorney who has the knowledge and experience that your detailed military counsel does not have. Having spent six consecutive years as a military defense counsel and senior defense counsel, Mr. Culp understands that many military attorneys have little experience in defending a contested court-martial. Even if they do have some trial experience, they may not have trial experience involving the offense you have been charged with. One thing is for sure, a detailed military defense counsel is rarely, if ever, going to have more than 2 years of experience defending against criminal charges in the military.

What Does an Article 32 Preliminary Hearing and Hearing Offer the Accused?

· To Be Informed Of The Actual Charges Under Preliminary Hearing

· To Be Informed Of The Purpose Of The Preliminary Hearing

· To Be Informed Of The Identity Of The Accuser(s)

· To Be Informed Of The Identity Of Any Witness(es)

· To Be Able To Cross-Examine Witnesses

· To Be Informed Of Any Other Evidence

· To Be Present During The Vetting Of Evidence

· To Be Represented By Counsel Of Your Choice

· To Be Informed Of The Right Against Self-Incrimination

· To Be Able To Present Anything In Your Defense

· To Make Any Statements That May Help In Your Defense

Consider a Civilian Military Attorney For Your Article 32 Preliminary Hearing

James Culp has the experience of 17 years of actual military law practice, having been a JAG officer and, later in his career, a supervisor-officer over entire teams of JAG lawyers and staff.

James Culp has the skills and hands-on experience to aggressively investigate all of the allegations against you, including the government’s charges, its core evidence, witness statements, and can conduct a thorough review of all the facts during the Article 32 Preliminary Hearing. Mr. Culp regularly represents service members at Article 32 Hearings against criminal charges that DO NOT subsequently get referred to a court-martial.

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