Legal Question in Military Law in Georgia

My boyfriend is a sergeant (E-5) in the US Army and currently stationed in Germany. Three weeks ago he got into an altercation with one of his soldier's and didn't think for a second and wanted to hit him. In the middle of hitting him he stopped but still hit/touched the soldier's shoulder. The soldier went down on the ground and said "you're going to wear specilist's rank very soon". Right after, the soldier went to the MP and pressed charges against my boyfriend. There are no witnesses, no injuries and my boyfriend had problems with this soldier before but he already admitted to his first sergeant that he overreacted in this situation. Now, they want to give my boyfriend an Article 15, probably 45 days extra duty, 45 days restricted to base, they want to take his rank, move him to another unit, they dont want to give him his good conduct award and more. My boyfriend is thinking about not accepting the Article 15 because he believes the punishment is too harsh and so do I but I think they might increase the punishment if he doesn't accept it. My boyfriend already got a lot of stress in his life, he got back from Afghanistan in April after a year-long deployment and suffers from PTSD, he's divorced and has to pay child support for two kids and has a hard time dealing with his ex-wife. Is there a possibility that all those circumstances lower his punishment? What can my boyfriend do to receive a lower sentence?

Asked on 7/21/11, 4:13 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

William J. Holmes Attorney at Military Law

If he refuses Article 15, he probably will be facing a court-martial. That probably is not a good idea since it carries far more severe punishments, including jail time and possibly a bad discharge. Also, if he is found guilty, that would be a conviction which is on his record .He should only demand a court-martial if he believes he will be found not guilty.

If he accepts Article 15, he can still present evidence as to exactly what he did (or what he did not do) and other evidence which can reduce the sentence. He can explain the stress and PTSD and the problems he had with the other soldier and how he was "baited" into this. He can also call witnesses and if the CO believes him, he likely would get a reduced sentence although there is no guarantee how this might turn out. He could also appeal the Article 15 if he thinks the punishment is too severe.

I hope this has helped. If you need more information, pease feel free to contact me directly at [email protected] or 757-420-9321.

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Answered on 7/21/11, 10:31 am

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