Legal Question in Military Law in Florida

I have been under investigation for the past month and a half for larceny. The final report was received recently. How long does the commander have to render his decision?

I was found to be in possession of stolen property; however, they were items left by a prior roomate, what do you think are the possible outcomes of this case?

Both my other roomate and wife can corroborate the fact that these items were not mine, and were left by the prior roomate. I had used one item one time, but did not know if they were stolen or not. Any information or opinions would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

Asked on 9/21/11, 10:07 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

William J. Holmes Attorney at Military Law

There is no mandatory time period for a commander to make a decision about possible charges. He can bring charges or take action up to 5 years after the commission of an offense. You just have to wait until a decision is made.

In the meanwhile, you have to be very careful. DO NOT TALK about the property in your house or what you knew or thought. Anything you say, to anyone, could possibly be used against you as an admission. The only person you should be speaking to is an attorney who is bound by the attorney-client privilege where anything you say must be kept confidential. Anything you say to your supervisor, co-workers, or friends can be used against you. Even if your friends don't want to say anything against you, they can be ordered or given a subpoena which requires them to say what you told them. So be careful and do not talk to anyone about this.

As far as what can happen, the commander could decide not to take any action, could send this to Article 15 or nonjudicial punishment, he could initiate a chapter or administrative discharge action, or possibly send it to a court martial. What action he takes will likely depend upon the results of the investigation including what kind and amount of property is involved, its value, what the witnesses have said, what you may have said, etc. If it is deemed serious enough, it could be sent to a court-martial where you could face felony charges, jail time and a punitive discharge. It may not be taken to this level, but you have to be prepared for what may occur.

You need to begin preparing for the worst even if it may not come to a court-martial. Meet with an attorney so that he or she can begin to talk to witnesses and line up your defense. Once the commander makes a decision, they will likely want to move fast to resolve this case so the sooner you get started, the better prepared you and your attorney will be.

I hope this has answered your questions. If you need more information, please feel free to contact me directly at [email protected] or (757) 420-9321

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Answered on 9/22/11, 6:46 am

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