Criminal & Discipline – Service Police Interview
If you have been arrested by the Service Police (RMP, RAFP, Naval Regulators or MOD Police) and face an investigation or interview under caution, or even if you have been invited to attend a voluntary interview, you have the right to consult a solicitor of your choice.
All service personnel, whatever service and regardless of their rank and income, are entitled to seek independent legal advice when arrested or to be interviewed under caution about a service or criminal offence. This is an absolute right and is also a free service.
It is important to seek advice at an early stage. How you deal with the interview under caution will determine what, if any, action is taken against you. Whether you are to be questioned about a service offence or a criminal offence, under s.42 Armed Forces Act 2006, our team of specialist lawyers can provide you with the appropriate advice and guidance.
Our team are available 24 hours a day and are able to provide advice and assistance where you are serving.
Service and Criminal offence are initially dealt with by a Commanding officer. A Soldier, Sailor or Airman does not have the right to be represented. However, the need for advice at this early stage is essential. You can accept the CO’s powers of punishment (found at s.132 AFA 2006) or you may elect to tried by Court-Martial (s.129 AFA 2006). We can advise which option best suits the facts of your case and individual circumstance. It should not be forgot that if a person elects trial by Court-Martial then if found guilty, or pleads, then the Court-Martial is limited to the sentencing powers that would have been available to the CO.
Do not delay, get advice at the earliest opportunity.
Summary Appeal Court
Service Personnel who have been dealt with by their CO at a Summary Hearing can ask that the finding and/or sentence be appealed. There are rules governing this, but in short, a notice has to be lodged with your admin office within 14 days of the Summary Hearing exercise. Thereafter, a hearing before a panel of a Judge Advocate and 2 Serving members will take place at one of the Military Court Centres at Aldergrove (Northern Ireland), Bulford, Catterick, Colchester or Portsmouth.
The Summary Appeal Court will hear the case afresh and members of the Armed Forces have the right to be represented. In addition, funding under the Armed Forces Criminal Legal Aid Authority may cover the costs of the representation.
Our military law team can advise you on the merits and grounds for an appeal, assist with drafting of the application and representation before the Summary Appeal Court. For advice call one of our specialists on 0800 542 4245.
Court Martial Advice and Representation
As a member of the Armed Forces you may be unfortunate enough to be involved in Court Martial proceedings. During these hearings the Court can hear allegations regarding offences that are classed as "criminal conduct", under s.42 Armed Forces Act 2006
- Assault – ABH and GBH
In addition, the Court has the jurisdiction to hear about Service/Disciplinary offences, these include:
- Contravention of Standing Orders
- Negligent performance of duty
- Conduct offence, and
- Offences regarding ships and flying of Aircraft.
Both Criminal and Service offences could lead to a period of Service Detention, dismissal from the Service and/or imprisonment. The full range of sentences available to the Court are found in Armed Forces Act 2006. A conviction at Court-Martial may not only affect your career in the Service but also has the possibility of impacting upon Forces Pension entitlements.
Having good legal representation is essential. Having legal representation with experience of the Court-Martial system and Service Life is invaluable. Contact one of our experienced team who can assist in advising you on the best course of action to be taken in your individual case. We can advise on funding, which is administered by the Armed Forces Legal Aid Authority and discuss your needs for representation.
Sills and Betteridge has a number of experienced solicitors with experience of the Military Court system. In addition, 2 of our solicitors have served in the RAF Police and Army Legal Service. Our team has Higher Court Advocate who can represent you in all hearing up to and including, if necessary, the Court- Martials Appeal Court.