As military personnel, if you’re accused of committing a crime your case will need to be heard by the General Court Martial. Before a case reaches this point, however, an investigation will need to have taken place. This is the purpose of an Article 32 hearing.
It’s so important because it determines how the rest of the court-martial process is going to go and whether there is enough evidence to take action against you.
An Article 32 hearing is the same as a preliminary hearing
This is because the purpose is to take a preliminary look at the case and decide what should happen next. A recommendation will be made and will usually recommend one of the following things:
- That the case is heard by a Court Martial or Special Court-Martial
- The charge is lessened or modified to a different charge
- The case is completely dismissed
The hearing is intended to answer a number of questions
Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is intended to help decision-makers adjudicate on a number of points:
- Whether the alleged misconduct constitutes an offense at all
- Is there probable cause to believe that the defendant committed the offense with which they have been charged?
- Does the court-martial even have jurisdiction over the accused and the offense or does it need to be heard elsewhere
- A recommendation as to the disposition that should be made of the case
If you’ve found yourself in the position where you’re facing court-martial proceedings, it’s an incredibly worrying time. As an Article 32 hearing is the last chance to avoid facing a trial, it’s essential to have legal help on your side. It’s the best opportunity to review and challenge the evidence against you and to identify any weaknesses in the case.