What is an Article 32 Hearing?

Article 32

Article 32 hearings are established under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and are similar to preliminary hearings in civilian law. As most military members know, court-martials are the most serious level of proceedings when allegations have been made against service members. Prior to determining if there is enough evidence for a court-martial, defendants are required to attend an Article 32 hearing.

Article 32 hearings are presided by hearing officers who may be JAG officers or Military Judges. During the investigative hearing, hearing officers will present probable cause for the charges a military member faces, as well as any evidence to support the allegations against them. Hearing officers will make determinations about whether a case should proceed to general court-martial based on the evidence and allegations.

Investigating officers have the ability to make several different recommendations, including:

  • Proceed to general court-martial or special court-martial
  • Change or add additional charges
  • Proceed to alternative dispositions, such as non-judicial punishment
  • Drop charges

Recommendations from hearing officers are not binding and commanding officers will ultimately decide whether charges should be dismissed or the case should proceed. Service members can use Article 32 hearings as their opportunity to challenge the allegations made against them to avoid or reduce consequences. An experienced military criminal defense lawyer can challenge evidence, question witnesses, and expose errors made by officials during hearings. While preliminary hearings in civilian courts will only typically involve testimony for probable cause, Article 32 hearings can extend over longer periods of time, depending on the number of witnesses called and questioned.

Military criminal defense lawyer Joseph L. Jordan is a former Army Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps officer who uses his insight to guide clients through each stage of their legal journeys, including Article 32 hearings. If you have questions about your case and how Attorney Jordan may be of assistance during an Article 32 hearing, call (888) 616-6177 today.