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NDAA Makes Changes to Article 32 Hearings

By Joseph Low on August 11, 2014

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2014 contained some provisions intended to improve Article 32 hearings.  These provisions mean several changes to how Article 32 hearings proceed, according to the U.S. Navy’s official blog.  As a result, experienced California military defense attorneys have followed the new provisions intently.

An Article 32 hearing is a “preliminary hearing” at which the facts of the case are presented, the evidence against the accused military service member is presented, and the accused person may present evidence on his or her own behalf.  The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether enough evidence exists to allow the case to proceed to court-martial.  Service members have the legal right to be represented by an attorney at the Article 32 hearing.

Changes to the Article 32 process that take effect in December 2014 include:

  • Alleged victims, whether civilian or military, will be allowed to decline to testify at the hearing, or even to be present.  If an alleged victim chooses not to testify, his or her sworn statement may be considered as evidence instead.  Also, examination of any witness will be limited to matters that are relevant to the charges.
  • Whenever practicable, Hearing Officers who preside over Article 32 hearings must be judge advocates.
  • Also, whenever practicable, the Hearing Officer should be senior to both the prosecutor and the military defense counsel.

Certain rights for alleged victims have also been added under the NDAA.  These include a “right to be heard” at certain hearings, including sentencing hearings.  A push for hearings that are held “without unreasonable delay” has also been framed as a victims’-rights issue, although avoiding unreasonable delay has benefits for those who are accused as well. If you have any questions concerning an Article 32 hearing, or have a loved one directly involved with such a case, consider giving military criminal defense attorney Joseph H. Low IV a call at (888) 454-5569.

Posted in: Military Defense

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