What is a Court-Martial?

A court-martial is the official title of a trial conducted within the United States military. Courts-martial convene to try active duty members of the U.S. military who have been accused of criminal violations regarding the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The UCMJ is the official U.S. military federal criminal code.

Reasons for the convening of a court-martial are:

If there is the need to address a serious offense that involves issues of good order and discipline, or

If an accused committed a criminal federal offense as described by the punitive articles of the UCMJ. 

Types of Court-Martial

There are three different kinds of court-martial, each one with a differing level of significance and severity with regard to the punishment. Specifically, the Summary Court-Martial, Special Court-Martial, and General Court-Martial.

In terms of severity, conviction at a General Court-martial is considered the civilian equivalent of a felony conviction. In contrast, Special Court-martial convictions are most commonly considered misdemeanors, and, finally, Summary Courts-martial do not result in a criminal conviction.

Summary Court-Martial

The least severe of the three, a Summary Court-martial is a simplified procedure in which minor offenses or misconduct committed by enlisted military members is resolved. It consists of one officer who acts as a judge advocate and the ‘sole finder of fact.’ Officers are not permitted to be tried by Summary Court-martial.

The enlisted accused party must affirmatelively consent to be tried by Summary Court-martial; if no consent is given, the command has the option to dispose of the allegation through various other means – including escalating the charges offenses to a court-martial to be tried before a Special or General court.

Summary Court-Martial Punishment

The punishment handed down at a SummaryCourt-martial varies depending on the paygrade of the enlisted member. If the paygrade is E-4 or below, the accused can be sentenced to a reduction to paygrade E-1, restriction for 60 days, or 30 days of confinement.

For servicemembers who are paygrade E-5 or above (for example, a Sergeant in the Army or Marines), no confinement is permitted, and the accused’s paygrade may only be reduced one grade.

Significantly, those who are accused at the level of a Summary court-martial are not automatically entitled to legal military representation due to the administrative nature of this court-martial. As a matter of policy, some services will provide the accused with free military legal counsel. Should the government not provide legal representation for the accused, the defendant can retain civilian legal counsel at their own expense.

Special Court-Martial

A Special Court-martial is considered to be the intermediate court-martial level. This kind of court-martial is much more involved, requiring a military judge, trial counsel (the prosecutor), defense counsel, and a minimum of three officers to sit as a jury. In this type of court-martial, the accused can request to be tried by the military judge alone.

A second kind of Special court-martial can occur in which the prevailing authority can order that only the military judge is permitted to pass judgment concerning the accused’s innocence or guilt, and they alone can decide the punishment should the accused be convicted.

Special Court-Martial Punishment

Regardless of the offenses involved, punishments for a special court-martial are limited.

No more than one year (12 months) of confinement – less if the offense has a lower maximum.

Forfeiture of two-thirds basic pay per month for one year.

A bad-conduct discharge.

A reduction in rank.

And certain lesser punishments.

Should the accused be sentenced by the military judge alone, the punishments are slightly different:

No more than six months confinement – less if the offense has a lower maximum.

Forfeiture of pay for six months.

And a reduction of rank if the accused is currently enlisted.

Officers tried by Special Courts-martial cannot be confined, reduced in rank, or dismissed from service.

General Court-Martial

A General court-martial is the most severe of all court-martials and carries with it the most severe punishments if the accused is found guilty. It consists of a military judge, trial counsel, defense counsel, and a minimum of 5 officers sitting as court-martial panel members. The accused has the right to request a trial by the military judge alone, and they can also request a court composed of a minimum of one-third (1/3) enlisted personnel.

General Court-Martial Punishment

The maximum punishments for offenses in a General Court-martial are outlined in the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM) and are as follows:

Death (for certain grievous offenses).


A dishonorable or bad-conduct discharge for enlisted personnel.

A dismissal for officers (equivalent of dishonorable discharge).

And other various punishments or collateral consequences, depending on the offense convicted of.

A General Court-martial is the only court-martial in which a military judge (JAG) can preside over a sentence of death. This kind of court-martial requires a pre-trial investigation be conducted by a preliminary hearing officer, as is described by Article 32 of the UCMJ, unless the accused voluntarily waives this pre-referral right.

During a General Court-martial, the government will provide the accused with military legal representation, though they are free to retain civilian legal representation at their own personal expense.

Court & Carpenter

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Court-Martial Achievements

U.S. Air Force Court-Martials

Air Force, Col, O-6, investigated regarding several “leave” related issues. Case was resolved by a letter of reprimand. Defense rebuttal focused on client’s “good military character.” Client allowed to retire at the fulll rank of Colonel. 

Air Force, Airman, E-2, charged with rape and sexual assault. Prosecutors claimed the alleged victim fell asleep, due to her intoxicated state, and suffered fragmentary memory loss, which the accused took advantage of by having sex with the unconscious female Airman. A Forensic Toxicologist was called by Government to testify about the likelihood of the alleged victim’s “black-out.” Defense called a Forensic Computer Expert to vilify the Government for conducting a shoddy investigation. Client does not testify. Military jury “fully acquits Airman of all charges.”

Air Force, SrA, E-4, charged with the attempted manslaughter of an unborn fetus. Government attempted to utilize a video-tape of the alleged assault, as well as statements from the accused in order to assure his conviction. Defense focused on the lack of physical injury to rebuke the government’s theory. Airman faced 15 years in confinement if he had been convicted of manslaughter, but he was only sentenced to serve 6 months, minus time served, and received a punitive discharge. Military jury “acquits Airman of attempted manslaughter, but he was found guilty of the lesser offense of assault and battery.”

Air Force, MSgt, E-7, government prosecutors contemplated charges of abusive sexual contact. Government alleged MSgt inappropriately and provocatively touched a lower enlisted Airman. After some negotiation, case was resolved by nonjudicial punishment. Client was reduced one grade. Defense drafts rebuttal to pending separation action attacking credibility of the alleged sexual assault victim. Wing Commander “withdraws” separation board. Security clearance reinstated. Client honorably retires from service.

Air Force, SSgt, E-5, charged with sexual assault and domestic battery. Government relied on the testimony of the former spouse, along with eye witness testimony of some of the charged events which spanned many years. Defense focused on the credibility of the complaining witness and worked hard to uncover inconsistencies with her story, to include hiring a private detective. SSgt found guilty of three instances of assault and battery. Military judge sentences him to serve 1 day in jail, and retains him in the service. As part of his announcement of sentence, the judge directs the prosecutors to ask the convening authority to disapprove the convictions. Client does not testify. Military judge “fully acquits Airman of all rape and sexual assault charges.”

Air Force, SrA, E-4, charged with the arson and complete destruction of commuter bus while on guard duty. Accused pled guilty to the offense. Defense calls mitigation expert who persuasively testifies to the totality of the circumstances that led to the burning of the security forces’ bus. Prosecutors demand a punitive discharge. Military jury “sentences SrA to serve an additional two months in civilian confinement, but retains him in the service.” No punitive discharge.

Air Force Technical Sergeant, TSgt, E-6, charged with procurement fraud related to client’s involvement in a private parachute club. Prosecutors convene Article 32, UCMJ, investigation which results in the case being resolved by non-judicial punishment. Convening Authority “withdraws” all court-martial charges and there specifications. Client avoids federal conviction, jail time, and continues with career following reduction in grade.

Air Force Captain, O-3, faced General Court-martial over alleged dereliction associated with a fatal accident involving a National Guard parachutist. Defense teams engage in aggressive cross examination of the Government experts during the Article 32 hearing, paving the eventual undermining of the government case at trial. Defense also engages1in extensive pre-trial discovery and tactical maneuvering to best position itself for contesting the charges at trial. Defense wisely forces the co-accused to be tried first, who is acquitted. Convening Authority “dismisses” all court-martial charges and there specifications in the accidental death case. (Link) Client gratefully retained in service.

Air Force Technical Sergeant, TSgt, E-6, charged with BAH fraud and making false official statements. Military judge “acquits TSgt of all charges, with the exception of a single specification of fraud.” Ironically, client was actually entitled to the monies associated with this fraud, as testified to by Defense’s

BAH/Finance expert witness. Defense highlights this oddity on rebuttal matters to the convening authority. Convening Authority “disapproves” BAH fraud court-martial conviction. Client retained in service. The withdrawn court-martial finding is alternatively resolved by Article 15, UCMJ proceeding, remarkably resulting in no loss of stripe.

Air Force Senior Airman, SrA, E-4, received three prior Letters of Reprimand (LOR) and two subsequent Article 15’s related to dereliction of duty. Perhaps most notably, he was charged with dereliction of duty related to his role as a tow supervisor that resulted in damage the aircraft as it exited the hangar. As a result, SrA was reduced in rank (from TSgt to SrA) despite 17-years of otherwise solid service. Government initiates involuntarily separation action seeking to expunge his retirement, benefits and family health care plan. Airman retains law firm to represent him before the administrative separation board. “Separation Board retains Airman.” Board members “find Airman did not commit two of the three acts of dereliction.” Returned to duty. Update: Client promoted to E-5. (2014)

Air Force Technical Sergeant, TSgt, E-6, pleads guilty to four charges involving indecent liberties with a family member. Military prosecutor demands 30 year jail sentence, but military jury sentences Airman so that he is eligible for parole in 3.5 years. Based upon the pretrial agreement, Defense successfully prevented military jury from hearing other prior acts of alleged sexual misconduct and physical assaults upon his children.

Air Force Lt Col, Officer, O-5, convicted of engaging in indecent acts with boys by sucking toes. Government focused on the multitude of alleged victims that came forward in this case who alleged similar conduct. Retained by military judge.

Air Force Technical Sergeant, TSgt, E-6, missed a deployment based upon abject carelessness. Group Commander threatens TSgt with NJP. Race issue seemed to be at play is this missing movement case. Defense submits rebuttal explaining the attendant circumstances behind the dereliction of duty, and raises other issues of unit discontent, as Client basically just lost his ID card. Commander decides against taking “any adverse action.” Client retained.

Air Force Major, Officer, O-4, a physician, received UIF for alleged acts of misconduct associated with flight status. UIF removed by Commanding General after appeal. Client retained. Update: Submitted request to Air Force Corrections Board to remove Article 15, UCMJ from Client’s OSR. (pending)(2015)

Disclaimer: Each case is different, thus prior results and successes should not create an expectation about results in any individual case. The above list is provided for illustration purposes only, and represents only some of the cases previously handled by said attorney. 

U.S. Army Court-Martials

Army, CPT, 0-3, charged with a sexual assault in Monterrey, California. Court & Carpenter addressed the rescission of the client’s promotion in light of the sexual assault charges being dismissed. Secretary of Army reviewed the rebuttal and thereafter promoted our client to the rank of Major on 1 March 2018.

Army, SFC, E-7, charged wiith sexual assault related to his wife’s consumption of a prescription medication called Ambien in Kaiserslautern, Gerrmany. Notably, the government offered video-taped evidence from two of these encounters. Defense focused on the abuse, by the spouse, of the medication. Cllient was also charged with frequenting a brothel in Germany. Military jury (“panel”) found client “Not Guilty” of all sexual assault charges involving his scorned ex-wife, but “Guilty” of the brothel related charges. Miliitary panel retains client in the service. Sex offender registration avoided.    

Army, SGT, E-5, enters pleas of “Not Guilty” to sexual assault in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Defense focused on the lack of both physical and testimonial evidence supporting the alleged victim’s claims. Defense rested without presenting any evidence. Military jury (“panel”) found client “Not Guilty” of all sexual assault charges after 25 minutes of deliberation; but “Guilty” of adultery. As a result, military jury did not reduce NCO. Client remains in the service, and merely received a reprimand and 30 days hard labor. Sex offfender registration avoided.

Army, MSG, E-8, charged with sexual assault at Ft. Lewis, Washington. Sex assault case was later dismissed; however, government referred “adultery” charge to special court-martial. Client pled guilty to “adultery” offense before military judge without a pretrial agreement. After presentencing, military judge did not reduce MSG, but issued $5,000 fiine. Client will retire with honorable discharge and full benefits.

    Army, COL, O-6, BAH Fraud AR 15-6 investigation dismissed in Stuttgart, Germany.  

Army, SPC, E-4 “fully acquitted” by panel of sexual assault and other charges at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. Defense called expert witness to testify about sleep patterns and alcohol. This testimony was so compelling that the government did not calll its own sleep expert in rebuttal. In a nutshell, the allleged victim’s story was shown to be untruthful. Sex offender registration avoided.  

Army, SSG, E-6 “fully acquitted” by panel of sexual assault and other charges at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. Defense focused on the flirtateous behavior of alleged victim prior to the allleged sexual assault. Notably, the alleged victim was a US Army CID agent. No sex offender registration.

Army, SPC, E-4, “fully acquitted” by panel of sexual assault and all charges at Ft. Lewis, Washington. Client and his friend were charged wiith sexuallly assaulting another female Soldier in their home. Defense focused on “mistake of fact as to consent.” In the end, cliient was found “Not Guilty” of all charges. The co-accused was convicted in a separate court-martial one month prior.   

Army, SFC, E-7, charged with sexual assault while stationed in Hawaii. Case went to Article 32, UCMJ hearing and charges were recommended for court-martial. Case later dismissed by military prosecutors after Defense proved alleged victim was misleading the government. Case dismissed.

Army, E-5, charged with sexual assault of a civilian in Alaska. Investigating officer recommended the charges proceed to court-martial, but case never referred  by military prosecutor based upon several problems with the case as highlighted during the Article 32.  Case dismissed.

Army, MAJ, O-4, served GOMOR related to making a false official statement and adultery. Defense drafts rebuttal that highlights the vulnerable nature of digital evidence, as supported by a detailed affidavit from a digital forensics expert. Commanding General (CG) “rescinds” GOMOR. MAJ’s exemplary professional reputation restored, and PCS’d to next duty station.

Army, LTC, O-5, served GOMOR for alleged wrongdoing related to federal remunerations. Defense drafted rebuttal that focused on insufficiency of evidence, and the grossly biased nature of the underlying CID investigation. Commanding General (CG) “withdraws” GOMOR. LTC’s exceptional military reputation protected. 9

Army, MSG, E-8, charged with sexually assaulting two junior enlisted Soldiers while downrange. He faced 34 years in prison. Military prosecutors spent nearly one year in attempting to bring this case to trial after some fortuitous events, namely the loss of an Article 32 tape recording, which resulted in an adverse ruling and a Government Article 62 appeal. Government later withdraws appeal, but new evidence arises. Ultimately, at trial, the Defense focused on good military character. Notably the Defense was able to make its initial showing of Unlawful Command Influence, and also filed a Motion for Prosecutorial Misconduct. Client did not testify. Military judge “acquits Soldier of all sexual assault charges” but found him guilty of fraternization and false official statement. Sentence: no sex registration, one stripe reduction, and no prison and/or jail time. Retirement protected and Client returned to duty.

Army, CPT, O-3, faced potential charges for sexual assault. Defense used compelling digital evidence from the complaining witness to persuade the trial counsel to issue a “non-prosecution (“non-pros”) memorandum. Case closed, client exonerated.

Army, 0-2, “fully acquitted” of sexual assault and all charges by a military judge at Fort Campbell.

Army, SGT, NCO, E-5, charged with aggravated assault. Government alleged SGT inflicted grievous bodily injuries upon another Soldier. Government calls Chief of the TBI Clinic in Landstuhl who testifies alleged victim is suffering from moderate TBI. He also essentially “vouches” to the alleged victim’s credibility. This so-called victim takes the stand and recounts the incident, and painstakingly recounts the debilitating harm he has suffered. Defense calls a Neurologist to the stand who rebukes the moderate-TBI diagnosis. Defense calls several solid character witnesses and relies heavily on its theory of self-defense. Client does not testify. Military jury “acquits Soldier of aggravated assault, obstruction of justice and drunk driving,” but convicts him of the lesser included offenses of assault and battery, and making threats. Jury retains Soldier in service, and despite requests from the trial counsel, gives him no jail time.

Army, Staff Sergeant, NCO, E-6, faced charges of vehicular manslaughter related to the unfortunate death of a German national near the Frankfurt airport. Military jury heard evidence that the NCO had driven into another lane and killed the oncoming driver. Defense was able to demonstrate, during its cross examination, that the Government’s accident reconstruction expert failed to conduct a thorough examination of the NCO’s vehicle prior to its destruction. Client did not testify. Military jury “fully acquits NCO of all criminal charges.”

Army, PV2, E-2, charged with abusive sexual contact of a minor related to his engaging in a consensual relationship with a civilian female. Client faced 7 years in confinement, federal conviction for sex offense and sex registration. Defense negotiates the case being sent to a Summary Court-martial (avoiding a federal conviction). Client pleads guilty and receives no jail time. Client also avoided sex registration. Convening Authority issues OTH discharge in accordance with pretrial agreement despite the fact that this Soldier’s entire lower level chain of command universally requested the discharge action be suspended.

Army Staff Sergeant, NCO, E-6, “turned-down” an Article 15, UCMJ and thus faced charges associated with his permitting another Soldier drive his car while drunk. His alleged conduct violated a USAREUR regulation. Defense persuades jury that the NCO could not have reasonably known the driver was intoxicated. Client did not testify. Military jury “fully acquits NCO of all criminal charges.”

Army, 0-4, faced involuntary separation for conduct unbecoming an officer for allegedly instigating a strip bar visit and making inappropriate sexual statements in the presence of junior officers, to include a offended female. Defense focused on the underlying paucity of the Government’s evidence, and called client to testify. Client’s wife also compelling testifies. “Board of Inquiry (BOI) retains Officer.” 10

Army Specialist, E-4, “turned-down” an Article 15, UCMJ action and thus faced a drug charge for cocaine use. Defense focused on destroyed urine sample, a negative hair sample test and this young female Soldier’s outstanding military character. Client did not testify. Military jury “fully acquits Soldier of all criminal charges.”

Army, SSG, E-6, involved in serious car accident. Prosecutors claim NCO was driving drunk. Government considers court-martial charges, but offense ultimately resolved by Article 15, UCMJ. Defense drafts Article 15 rebuttal. Command reduces NCO one stripe, but agrees to forego any administrative separation. Client “retained” in service; and she continues onward with MEB and full medical retirement.

Army, SSG, E-6, faced several sexual assault charges. Defense vigorously defends NCO at Article 32, UCMJ hearing. Prosecutors “withdraw” sexual assault charges. Defense drafts Article 15 rebuttal. Command reduces NCO to E-5, but decides against involuntary separation. Client retained in service and returned to duty.

Army, 1LT, 0-3, probationary officer faced elimination based upon two GOMORs which claimed she committed adultery and unlawfully accessed private information (PII). Defense drafts rebuttal to GOMORs and Elimination Action. Commanding General (CG) meets with client for 90-minutes and decides to tear-up one GOMOR. CG recommends the other GOMOR be removed from her OMPF. Commanding General (CG) “withdraws” initiated Officer Elimination Action. Officer allowed to PCS to Korea. Update: Promotion Board pending (2015)

Army, Private First Class, (E-3) charged with murder in the death of a fellow Soldier in Frankfurt Germany. Defense negotiated a conditional plea with Government in preserving Client’s rights to appeal a denied motion to suppress filed by Mr. Carpenter, and argued by Mr. Carpenter. Soldier sentenced to life with possibility of parole.

Army, LTC, 0-5, charged with rape, aggravated sexual assault, indecent acts and making a threat. Defense demonstrated alleged victim destroyed evidence prior to meeting with CID. Panel acquits officer of all charges except a single offense of breast kissing. Officer faced a maximum sentence of 20-years confinement and dismissal. Prosecutors demand dismissal and “jail time.” Military jury sentences officer to reprimand, forfeitures and 60 days restriction. Jury awards no jail time and no dismissal. Client issued PCS orders to Texas. Update: LTC retired with full-benefits (2015)

Army, Sergeant, E-5, charged with rape and sexual assault. Client enters plea of “not guilty” and case set for trial before military jury. Defense team mounts vigorous attack on the military prosecutor’s evidence, demonstrating numerous inconsistencies with the alleged victim’s testimony. Client testifies. Military jury “fully acquits E-5 of all rape and sexual assault charges.” Client convicted of adultery, but is retained in the service, with no sex registration, and no incarceration meted-out.

Army Specialist, E-4, faced involuntary separation for unsatisfactory performance related to his inability to maintain his military occupational specialty (MOS). Client had his medic license revoked on account of several court-martial convictions. Defense focused on good military character and opportunities for redemption. “Separation Board retains Soldier.” Administrative Separation Board (ASB) finds only two instances of “unsatisfactory performance.” Returned to duty. Army Chief Warrant Officer, CW2, is investigated related to the crime of rape. Case thereafter resolved by OMPF filed GOMOR. Board of Inquiry convenes to address underlying allegations. “Board of Inquiry  

(BOI) retains CW2.” Board finds “no misconduct” occurred. Upon Defense request, Board President later submits a memorandum imploring the Commanding General (CG) to remove the instigating GOMOR from my client’s OMPF.

Army Major, O-4, sentenced to serve 24-months in confinement after being found guilty by court-martial panel of using cocaine. Thereafter Carpenter Law Firm was specifically hired to draft clemency (R.C.M. 1105) matters to the Commanding General requesting a new trial and a reduction in the sentence. “Commanding General (CG) grants Post-Trial Clemency” and reduces sentence of confinement by 18-months, and thereby released the MAJ from JBLM prison to work that very day.

Army 2LT, 0-1, probationary officer misbehaved after taking a large dose of a prescription medicine (paxil) and alcohol. Civilian police arrest client. Subsequent toxicologist screening indicates use of cocaine. Defense impeaches drug test result, and then drafts rebuttal addressing the underlying conduct. This was a highly complicated case. Defense took advantage of client’s academic background. “Commanding General (CG) dismisses initiated Officer Elimination Action.”

Army Sergeant, NCO, E-5, pled guilty to wrongful sexual contact of a child (under 16) at a Special Court-martial. Case was initially referred to a General Court-martial. As such Soldier originally faced over 10-years in confinement, and a dishonorable discharge. Military judge sentences E-5 to serve 7-months in confinement, and does not award a punitive discharge. Client’s entire chain of command testifies on his behalf at the court-martial. Soldier reduced to PV2. Client was in the Army Band. Client released from confinement and discharged from the service with a General under Honorable Conditions Discharge, which assured his eligibility for VA benefits.

Army Staff Sergeant, NCO, E-6, accused of hazing and maltreatment of subordinates while in Afghanistan. Army investigators uncover the use of a “blood rank ceremony.” Command initiates investigation and client read for Article 15. Carpenter drafts rebuttal to Article 15. Case “dismissed” without further adverse action. NCO’s flag lifted and PCS’s to next duty station.

Army Staff Sergeant, NCO, E-5, charged with rape, sexual assault, making threats and fraternization. Soldier faced a maximum sentence of life in prison, dishonorable discharge and sex offender registration requirements. Article 32 investigating officer recommends the case be dismissed, but prosecutors still recommend Commanding General refer the case to General Court-martial. Case set for trial. Carpenter engages in aggressive pre-trial discovery.

Army Commanding General “dismisses” all court-martial charges.

AGR Master Sergeant, NCO, E-8, investigated for alleged acts of fraternization and adultery. Command initiates process to terminate his AGR status. Defense drafts lengthy rebuttal to adverse action. TAG imposes Article 15 punishment, with reduction in rank to E-7, and “locally files” LOR. MSGT retained in AGR status and awarded rehab transfer.

Army Captain, O-3, officer faced GOMOR OMPF filing, and likely show-cause (separation) board, related to alleged acts of dereliction associated with high level security and computer protocols. Defense submits rebuttal. Commanding General (CG) “withdraws” GOMOR.

Army First Sergeant, NCO, E-8, charged with sexual harassment and adultery. Negotiated with the Commanding General and court-martial charges were “withdrawn” and misconduct was disposed of during Article 15 (nonjudicial punishment hearing). NCO with 23-years of service admitted to some of the 12

underlying acts. Two months forfeitures. No other punishment. Retired with Honorable Discharge and full military benefits. No permanent federal conviction.

Army Staff Sergeant, NCO, E-6, pled guilty to several so-termed war crimes associated with the high-profile Stryker Brigade case at Ft. Lewis, WA. Government “withdraws” conspiracy and aggravated assault charges associated with alleged co-conspirator Staff Sergeant Gibbs. (Link) Client pleads guilty to assault by offer, false official statements, and other misconduct associated with his faking a Taliban engagement by throwing a grenade. Defense focused on this Soldier’s outstanding military character. As part of the pre-trial agreement, Soldier testified against several other service members charged with murder. Soldier retained in service by military judge. Update: Client promoted following court-martial (2013)

Army Ranger, E-4, took pain medication without a prescription. Command initiated Article 15 and had Ranger begin out-processing from the Army. Ranger turned-down Article 15 and demanded trial by court-martial, but commander still involuntarily separated Soldier. CLF filed reconsideration memoranda with the commander, who changed his mind. Client transfers out of Ranger Regiment, but retained in the service. Client thereby remained eligible for Honorable Discharge and GI Bill educational benefits.

Commander, O-5, NOAA, investigated for alleged misconduct related to authorizing unlawful financial entitlements for his officers. NOAA initiated a Board of Inquiry (BOI). Negotiated with command to “withdraw” the Board of Inquiry (BOI) under confidential terms that may not be published. Officer remains eligible for promotion to O-6 in the future, and his retirement remains fully intact. Letter of reprimand imposed for a confidential duration.

National Guard Sergeant, NCO, E-5, tested positive for smoking marijuana. Sergeant’s chain of command initiated an adverse board action to involuntary separate him from National Guard. Based on legal technicality, NG Soldier was allowed to medically retire with Honorable Discharge and full benefits. Separation board action “rescinded” by misguided Government.

Army Soldier, E-4, faced Article 15 for lying to his chain of command and thereafter involuntary separation. Soldier was hospitalized at Landstuhl Army Hospital for issues related to mental illness. Negotiated with chain of command in Germany to allow Soldier and his local national wife and family to be transferred to another unit in USAREUR. No adverse punishment was taken against this Soldier. Soldier was medically boarded with all of his benefits.

Army Soldier, E-4, the German wife of this USAREUR Soldier was alleged to have engaged in acts of misconduct involving neighbors while family stationed in Germany. She faced a loss of Command Sponsorship. Defense negotiated the PCS transfer of Soldier and his family back to CONUS. Based on his expedited transfer the final action was never taken on the initiated Revocation of Command Sponsorship, thus this family remains eligible to return to Europe in the future with full DoD entitlements and benefits.

Army Reserve Captain, O-3, misused his government credit card in violation of the Joint Ethics Regulation. Defense negotiated a Letter of Reprimand (LOR) that prevented his court-martial and ensured that he retired with an Honorable Discharge and full benefits.

Army Private Second-class, E-2, investigated by CID concerning as accusation of sexual misconduct while deployed Afghanistan. Soldier faced General Court-martial. During an aggressive pre-trial investigation phase Defense demonstrated Government case was factually and legally 13

baseless. Convening Authority “withdraws” court-martial charges. Soldier faced Article 15, but received “no punishment.” Retained in service.

Army Sergeant, NCO, E-5, faced General Court-martial for attempted use of methamphetamine. Negotiated the Government action to send the case to a lower level court, the so-called Special Court-martial. NCO pled Guilty. Reduced to E-3. Defense was able to reduce prison sentence by two months on account of unlawful pretrial punishment. As a direct result, client served three months in confinement. Retained in the U.S. Army.

Army Sergeant, NCO, E-5, receives “no punishment” sentence from the military jury sitting in a Special Court-martial following her conviction for physical child abuse associated with her allegedly striking her stepson with a belt after he wet his bed. Military jury found SGT “not guilty of engaging in corporal punishment with a telephone cord.” Defense focused entirely upon the parental discipline doctrine and fabulous testimony from her counselor. (Link)

Army Private Second-Class, E-2, AWOL for over 5 years avoids federal conviction and does not serve a single day in confinement. Client administratively separated with a General under Honorable Conditions Discharge.

Army NCO, E-7, investigated for conspiring to engage in BAH fraud of allegedly over $100,000. Client receives “locally filed” letter of reprimand. Retires with full benefits.

Army Captain, Officer, O-3, initially received a General Officer Letter of Reprimand (GOMOR) for permitting Soldiers to abuse detainees in Iraq. Defense submits its rebuttal. Major General, in his words, later tells my relieved Client “I am going to shred this reprimand.” Case closed.

Army Staff Sergeant, NCO, E-6, pleads guilty and military judge retains him despite having consensual sexual relations with two subordinates at the same time. Defense demonstrates NCO paints NCO as a stellar duty performer. NCO sentenced to serve 60 days extra duty and to be reduced to PV2. Rape charge “dismissed.” Retained in service.

Army Soldier, E-3, faced charges of rape and indecent acts, but ultimately pleads guilty to some relatively minor charges. “Military judge retains Soldier in the service.” Rape charge is “dismissed.” Retained in service.

Army Captain, Officer, 0-3, is court-martialed for making false official statements and commandeering two Kentucky Air National Guard C-130 flights for civilian parachutists. Reprimanded by military jury and required to pay $3000. Client does not testify. Retained in military service by jury. Update: Officer received medical retirement and Honorable Discharge (2013)

Army Soldier, E-3, without authority brings several loaded weapons onto post. He confronts a police officer with a knife. Case is referred to Summary Court-martial. He then goes AWOL for three weeks, but returns on his own accord. Managed to get his chain of command to again set the case for a Summary Court-martial (no federal conviction). Soldier confined 20 days, but retained in military service. Received Honorable Discharge.

Disclaimer: Each case is different, thus prior results and successes should not create an expectation about results in any individual case. The above list is provided for illustration purposes only, and represents only some of the cases previously handled by said attorney. 14 

U.S. Coast Guard Court-Martials

Coast Guard, Master Chief, E-9, while underway in Alaska allegedly sexually assaulted three civilian women. Case disposed of by Mast, amended charges and one grade reduction. PSC approves Honorable Discharge. Court martial case dismissed.

Coast Guard LCDR, O-4, investigated for alleged inappropriate conduct while intoxicated. Allegations included alleged wrongful flashing and one instance of sexual touching. Defense focused on the specific circumstances that pervaded this conduct to provide proper perspective. Defense likewise highlighted an otherwise stellar career, and the likelihood that the touching could have been accidental. Client underwent Captain’s Mast, and not a court-martial, thereby avoiding concerns related to sex registration and a federal conviction. Client submits resignation request to PSC, which approves it. Client awarded “Honorable Discharge.”

Coast Guard, E-5, investigated by CGIS for maltreatment of two female subordinates. The underlying investigation was exceedingly voluminous, and therefore the case was likely to prove complex, lengthy and expensive for the Government to prosecute. Defense negotiated Client’s involuntary separation, without a federal conviction, without any jail time, and without the stigma of sex registration. Client eagerly accepts “OTH Discharge.”

Coast Guard Seaman, E-2, charged with various serious offenses surrounding solicitation. Defense entered into plea agreement, but protected the record to allow E-2 to appeal the adverse decisions issued by the military judge at trial. “Upon such review, the findings of guilty of Charges I and III and their specifications are set aside and those charges and specifications are dismissed with prejudice. The findings of guilty of Charge II and its Specification 2 are set aside, and Specifications 1 and 2 of Charge II are dismissed with prejudice. Specification 1 of Charge IV is dismissed with prejudice. The findings of guilty of Charge IV and its Specification 2 are set aside. Charge II and its Specification 3 and Charge IV and its Specification 2 are dismissed without prejudice.” E-2 wins appeal. Case is “dismissed.” (Link)

Coast Guard, Petty Officer, E-5, charged with sexually assaulting a female in the berthing of a cutter. Convening Authority “dismisses” sexual assault and only client pleads to “battery.” Military judge does not sentence Client to jail and no sex registration required. Client retained in the service by the military judge.

Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer, E-7, investigated for “misrepresenting a fact” to his command on a matter of national security while cutter was underway. Coast Guard lawyers were unable to discharge member based on legal technicality. Member maintained his rate and transfers to a new unit; no federal conviction and “no” punishment.

Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer, E-7, implicated in a Preliminary Inquiry (PIO) related to a multi-automobile accident. PIO report was ascertained by use of a Freedom of Information Act Request. Negotiated with Deputy Staff Judge Advocate and this member’s command resulting in an “alcohol incident” designation and disciplinary marks. Chief did not receive Captain’s Mast or was otherwise punished. Remains fully eligible for retirement and transfer.

Coast Guard Petty Officer, E-5, accused of aggravated sexual assault, wrongful sexual contact and obstructing justice. Case revolved around an alleged touching of the anus region during a volleyball game. Defense focused on inconsistencies in the alleged victim’s testimony and motives to fabricate instigated by his unhappy spouse. Client does not testify. Military jury “fully acquits client of all criminal charges and specifications.”

Coast Guard Petty Officer, E-5, found guilty of rape and making false official statements. Prosecutor demands 19-year jail sentence and dishonorable discharge, but member receives 3-month jail sentence and BCD discharge. Member actually only spends 10-weeks in brig after good time reduction. Most importantly, defense prevents military jury from ever hearing about his prior alleged sexual assault of another claimed female years earlier, as well as his simple assault of yet another female the same day of this incident. Defense raises issues of panel selection. Case pending appeal. (Link)

Coast Guard Officer, LTJG, O-2, was involved in fight with a civilian law enforcement officer which resulted in a misdemeanor resisting arrest conviction. Client was heavily intoxicated at the time of the assault. Defense negotiated with his chain of command following the civilian conviction. Client will be allowed to “continue in service” until his end of service date. He will then receive Honorable Discharge with full GI Bill educational benefits.

Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer, E-7, faced rape allegation. Defense vehemently argued Government must drop rape charge after the Article 32 investigating officer (IO) recommended the rape charge not be forwarded to court-martial. Government agreed. Rape charge “dismissed.” Instead the case was referred to a Special Court-martial, upon agreement of the parties, whereby my client pled guilty to adultery and making two false official statements. Military judge sentences client to one rank reduction with no confinement. Client retained in Coast Guard.

Coast Guard Petty Officer, E-5, charged with issues related to the alleged nondisclosure of a medical ailment prior to enlistment. Defense drafts rebuttal. Client was inexplicably separated without due process of law. Defense drafts yet another rebuttal, to include multiple phone conversations with high level authorities at DHS. Vice-Admiral retrospectively “rescinds” unlawful separation. Client reinstated in the Coast Guard. Incredibly, Client was also reimbursed attorney’s fees after filing EEO complaint. Then, in the final chapter to her case, IPEB reverses its prior decision in finding E-5 “unfit” for continued service, based in part, upon the baseless allegations.

Coast Guard Captain, Officer, O-6, investigated for actions associated with his dereliction of his pharmaceutical related duties. Client only received a letter of censure. Retires with full benefits.

Coast Guard Petty Officer, E-3, charged with burglary, wrongful sexual contact, and being drunk and disorderly during a port call. Case “withdrawn” from a Special Court-martial and referred to a Summary Court-martial (i.e., we avoided stigma of federal conviction and/or sex registration requirements). Client sentences to serve 18 days in brig by summary court officer. Convening Authority agreed, by negotiated terms, to recommend my client keep his “top secret clearance” and he was likewise awarded a General Discharge under Honorable Conditions Discharge.

Coast Guard Petty Officer, E-3, charged with threatening to kill his commanding officer in violation of a Commandant’s Instruction. Defense negotiated pretrial agreement with Government that addressed the actions Client undertook, as well as the underlying threats. Defense focused on the intense stress this Guardian had been under leading up to the offense. Based upon further Defense plea bargaining, the case was resolved by Special Court-martial, and Client pled guilty to one offense under Article 134, UNCJ while the other offense was dismissed. In addition, Client was sentenced to serve 150 days in confinement, but was credited with 81 days of being in pretrial confinement, and thus was released within a few months. Client had faced a maximum sentence of three years. Client received bad conduct discharge. 16

Coast Guard Petty Officer, E-6, had his court-martial “dismissed” by military judge because Government failed to provide “fair notice” (Parker v. Levy) of the criminality of his conduct in light of Coast Guard Custom embodies within its Fraternization Policy promulgated in 8H. The appellate courts subsequently upheld this decision, however upon different legal grounds. Coast Guard authorities amend its (former) 8H regulation based upon this seminal case. (Link)

Coast Guard Petty Officer, E-5, is initially denied reenlistment by a Coast Guard Board. Defense submits an appeal raises issues of procedural unfairness. In sum Defense counsel argues several Coast Guard policies were violated in processing the case. EPM “vacates”

Coast Guard Board’s denial of reenlistment. Client later retires with full benefits.

Coast Guard Petty Officer, E-4, accused of reckless discharge of firearm (which resulted in a civilian conviction) false official statement, assault and unauthorized transportation of weapons faced a General Discharge and the loss of all educational benefits. Defense worked hard in currying favor with the command. Client receives Honorable Discharge, and GI Bill eligibility.

Coast Guard Captain, Officer, 0-6, formally investigated for conduct unbecoming an officer while in a Russian locale. Client was interrogated by several CGIS agents. Defense painstakingly negotiated with Government the ultimate withdrawal of any contemplated adverse actions. O-6 “cleared” of all wrongdoing and allowed to retire without any ramifications.

Disclaimer: Each case is different, thus prior results and successes should not create an expectation about results in any individual case. The above list is provided for illustration purposes only, and represents only some of the cases previously handled by said attorney.

U.S. Navy Court-Martials

Navy, ENS, NAS Pensacola, client pled guilty to some “CP” specifications before the military judge. After presentencing, the Pariss Island, South Carolina Marine Judge sentenced the client, in part, to serve 27 years in confinement. Significantly, however, the Defense previously negotiated a “Pretrial Agreement” which explicitely restricted any period of confinement to 3 years. In fact, client is eligible for DoD parole in 1 year. In sum, Defense helped client avoid an additional 24 year sentence in federal confinement. This nearly historic succcess was feasible on account of a highly indepth, persuasive and dispositive Defense motion to suppress.

Navy Second Class Petty Officer, E5, accused of verbal sexual harassment involving subordinate female Sailor. Administrative separation board finds insufficient evidence to constitute this offense. MA2 did not testify. Defense focused on poor supervisory leadership. MA2 retained in U.S. Navy by unanimous board vote.

Navy First Class Petty Officer, E6, accused “popped hot” on drug test for oxycodone. Client has legal presciption from year prior. Defense focused on systemic and deplorable failings of U.S. Navy phramacutical guidance. Client did not testify. Separation board unanimously retains PS1 in Naval service.

Navy Officer (LDO), O2, faced separation for adultery with spouse ofsubordinate Sailor. Defense focused on remorse and the likehood of continued positive service. Client showed clear motivation to rehabiltate his marraige and service to country. Board votes 3-0 to retain Officer.

Navy Officer, O-2, was passed over for promotion on account of an incident involving alleged domestic violence that was later substantiated by FAP. Defense focused on the exceptionally biased FAP findings and a solid career path since the alleged event. SecNav approves Defense’s remedial request, and the Officer is rightfully promoted.

Navy Petty Officer, Third Class, E-4, charged with rape and forcible sodomy. Article 32, UCMJ investigator recommends the case be dismissed. Even so, the General Court-martial Convening Authority, a Vice Admiral, convenes court-martial. Client does not testify. Military judge “fully acquits client of all criminal charges and specifications.”

Navy Chief Petty Officer, E-7, investigated by NCIS for sexual assault. Firm hired during investigation phase to protect accused and negotiate with prosecutors. U.S. Navy prosecutors do not file court-martial charges. Case dismissed.

Navy Chief Petty Officer, E-7, prosecuted for the use of methamphetamine and pandering prostitution sent to brig for 45 days by military jury, but allowed to keep his anchors. Retained in military service by jury. Overcame “zero tolerance” arguments by Government prosecutor.

Navy Petty Officer, Third Class, E-4, charged with three crimes of false official statement and one allegation of larceny based upon the alleged stealing of over $50,000 of BAH. Military judge finds Sailor “Not Guilty” of the three false official statement crimes, and guilty, by exceptions and 17 substitutions, of withholding approximately $13,000 of BAH. Sailor faced 25-years in confinement and dishonorable discharge, but is sentenced, based on the court’s verdict, to serve 25-days in confinement. Sailor is retained in the Navy. He remains eligible for an Honorable Discharge after the completing his term of service. Sailor may also likely be promoted as commander recommends nonrevocation of security clearance.

Navy Officer, 0-3, officially investigated for travel voucher fraud. His retirement application was suspended. Demonstrated Government’s case was baseless. Navy Officer is “cleared” of any and all wrongdoing and has since retired with full honors and benefits.

Navy Sailor, E-2, stationed aboard a nuclear submarine took pain medication without a prescription. Persuaded the Chain of Command and Government Lawyer to not apply “zero tolerance” principle. Government joined in requesting the Sailor not be discharged. “Separation Board recommends Sailor’s retention.” Naval Personnel Command (NPC) Millington similarly “retains” Sailor.

Navy Officer, O-2, investigated for adultery. Client voluntarily submits persuasive resignation packet, which is approved by NPC with an “Honorable Discharge.”

Navy Officer, O-2. subjected to offensive and unfair ridicule by her commanding officer, who takes it out on her by issuing a poor fitness report. Client decides to fight the report, and lawyer engages with the command’s lawyers, who encourage commander to revise the report. Rater concedes his errors and miraculously deletes unfavorable language from client’s fitness report.

Disclaimer: Each case is different, thus prior results and successes should not create an expectation about results in any individual case. The above list is provided for illustration purposes only, and represents only some of the cases previously handled by said attorney.

U.S. Marine Corps Court-Martials

U.S. Marine Corps, GySgt, charged with alleged assault in Stuttgart, Gerrmany. Defense files motion to preclude the complaining witness’ testimony at trial. Military judge grants motion. Final resolutiion pending.

U.S. Marine Corps, LT, this young man was released from Pretrial Confinement in Jacksonville, Florida. Based upon this case, Mr. Carpenter will be seeking civil damages. Resolution pending.

U.S. Marine Corps LCpl, E-3, was initially discharged from the Corps with a General under Honorable Conditions Discharge. Defense submits a lengthy written rebuttal to this “General” characterization based upon a careful reading of the applicable instructions, case precedents and the use of a mathematical graph. Marine Corps Discharge Review Board “upgrades discharge to Honorable.”

U.S. Marine Corps LCpl, E-3, went AWOL for 90-day period. Firm negotiated Marine’s surrender to his unit. Marine’s case referred to Special Court-martial. Military judge retains Marine in service, and pre-trial agreement caps confinement at “time served.” Marine released from confinement but also retained by his command.

U.S. Marine Corps SSgt, E-6, pled guilty to several specifications related to unlawfully taking $50,000, from the United States Treasury. Marine also pled guilty to a 2-year AWOL. Client faced over 50-years in confinement, but military judge sentences him to 39-months confinement, and a bad conduct discharge. Judge offers to sign a memorandum recommending the suspension of the punitive discharge on account of client’s combat tour (and heroism) in Ramadi.

U.S. Marine Corps LCpl, E-3, pled guilty to offenses related to a “Catch a Predator” sting in Okinawa, Japan. Deal capped confinement at 30 months, protecting client from serving an additional year in confinement based upon the military judge’s sentence. The national press has consulted wiith Mr. Carpenter about this Japanese related court-martial and its related NCIS Sting Operation (bordering on entrapment) on multiple occasions.

U.S. Marine Corps LCpl, E-3, confesses to using spice several times and the specter of fraudulent enlistment is raised by the board’s recorder. “Separation board retains Marine.” Board finds “no misconduct” on account Marine did not know the wrongfulness of its use. Defense able to suppress evidence related to fraudulent enlistment. This young Marine was sent back to Fleet. Update: Client Promoted (2014)

U.S. Marine Corps Captain, O-3, confessed to using cocaine to several members of his chain of command and NCIS. Case held at Bremerton, Washington. Defense raised the lack of Article 31(b) warnings. Military judge “suppresses all, but one confession.” Prosecutors “dismiss” all the criminal charges the next day. Client ultimately separated with OTH, but avoided jail time, permanent federal drug convictions, and a dishonorable discharge. Board of Inquiry (BOI) was convened at Quantico, Viirginia.

U.S. Marine Corps, E-3, went AWOL for over 2-years. Client returns to Camp Pendleton. Negotiated with prosecutors regarding an administrative discharge, which was approved, and thus Client gratefully avoided jail time; and a permanent federal criminal conviction.

Disclaimer: Each case is different, thus prior results and successes should not create an expectation about results in any individual case. The above list is provided for illustration purposes only, and represents only some of the cases previously handled by said attorney. 

Court-Martial Testimonials

US Navy Officer Case Dismissed

I hired Stephen to work on multiple cases and situations for me, and ultimately he worked on a misdemeanor that carried a large fine and jail time. He was on top of everything and worked to settle the case out of court. Stephen stayed after the “victim” and made sure that not only was she made whole and respected, but that I was treated fairly as well. After a little over a year Stephen and I appeared before a judge and the case was formally dismissed with no repercussions from the military or civil justice system.

March 26, 2019

Defends From the Heart!

Mr Carpenter defended my Son-in Law with an extraordinary brilliance that I have never seen before. I believe the argument he brought fourth should have acquitted my Son-in-Law. Mr Carpenter is a smart extremely articulate defense attorney and defends from the heart! He truly loves practicing law and defending individuals such as my Son-in-Law. I only wish it was a different outcome not to diminish in anyway Mr. Carpenters very well orchestrated Defense Thank you Steven Schindler

November 28, 2018

Fort Hood Court-Martial Win

Mr. Carpenter came to my rescue after I had exhausted all the JAGs had to offer me. He fought for my life and my career. He was very professional and passionate in the courtroom, and gave his all, so that in the end we came out on the winning side. After facing over seven charges the prosecutors dropped five of them once they realized I had a civilian lawyer who was dedicated and had such great experience. I was able to receive an Honorable Discharge and keep all my benefits.

August 7, 2018

My Son’s Trial

My son’s life and his families life was held hostage for just about a year, by an accusation of sexual assault. Not only did his family and friends believe he was innocent, so did Stephen. Stephen kept all of us up to date on how my son’s case was progressing, and worked very hard to be sure my son’s outcome, would turn out as his family believed. Of course he couldn’t promise us the not guilty verdict, my son received, I am certain had my son not hired Stephen, my son’s life and his families, would be considerably different today. I highly recommend his expertise, as well as his compassion for his clients and their families.

December 11, 2017

The Only Person I Would Ever Trust With My Career

There’s nothing more stressful in the military than facing a Court Martial. Stephen was able to give me strength and hope for my career after going to the routine TDS lawyer who didn’t give me any comfort or reassurance about my situation. Stephen is proactive rather than reactive and he went above and beyond what I ever could have asked for in a lawyer. Before I worked with Stephen I was waiting for weeks on end for even the smallest bit of information about my case. Once I was working with Stephen he went out of his way to contact anyone and everyone he could to get me the answers I needed within 24 hours. Stephen was great at explaining everything about my case, court martial, military law, etc. to make sure I fully understood what I was going through so I never felt like I was confused or in the dark about my case. Stephen is well respected at my base and every time I mentioned that I was working with him on my case people would say they’ve seen him do great work. Through working with Stephen I was able to keep my rank in the Army which was the exact outcome I was hoping for in my case. You never think you will face this kind of situation and it was by far the scariest and worst experience of my career. Once I began working with Stephen I felt relief and I finally felt like I would be able to continue my career, which I am now able to.

July 17, 2017




Court & Carpenter

Military Defense Lawyers

Military defense lawyer, Court & Carpenter, is a top-rated, military only law firm. Court & Carpenter specializes in the UCMJ, Separation Boards, Courts-Martial, and more.


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