What Happens in an Article 32 Investigation?

Understanding the benefits of an Article 32 investigation versus a grand jury proceeding is crucial. If you are facing serious criminal charges as a military service member, it is important for you to review your rights and stay informed of your legal options.

While many service members may feel pressured to waive their right to an Article 32 investigation and hearing in order accept a plea bargain or face lesser charges, this can be very damaging to their case. You should not make this decision without the counsel of an experienced and trustworthy military defense lawyer. By waiving your rights, you could be facing an uphill battle and possible discharge.

The Benefits of an Article 32 Hearing

An Article 32 hearing is very different from a civilian preliminary hearing or grand jury. There are several key factors that separate these legal proceedings and can make a major difference in how your case is played out.

In a civilian grand jury, the jurors decide to indict an individual based upon evidence that is typically provided by the prosecution the alone, representing only one side of the case. The defendant is barred from cross-examining witnesses, presenting evidence, or even speaking on their own behalf.

In contrast, an Article 32 investigation hearing allows a defendant to:

  • Call witnesses
  • Present supportive evidence
  • Cross-examine witnesses provided by the prosecution
  • Represent their side of the story

Without the opportunity to question the credibility of the testimony of the prosecution's witnesses, it can be very challenging to resolve a case in a favorable manner for the defendant. It also means that the defense will be able to review the prosecution's evidence, rather than remaining in the dark about it. This gives the defense a better idea of how to approach a case and helps them determine whether or not a plea bargain is a viable option.

The Investigation Process

Once this hearing is complete, the investigating officer will file a written report which will address all legal issues raised in the case and includes recommendations on how the charges should be handled. This may include a dismissal of charges or a request for a general court martial. The investigating officer only provides recommendations, however, as the appointing authority will still have the final decision on the matter.

In some cases it may be better for the defendant to waive their right to an Article 32 investigation and hearing and proceed through a civilian grand jury. To learn which option is best for your situation, get in touch with the experienced military defense team at Joseph L. Jordan, Attorney at Law.