Published August 14, 2012

If you are an army or air force officer accused of serious misconduct, a Board of Inquiry (BOI) might be ordered to investigate the misconduct allegations. Your entire record would be up for consideration, and the procedure carries grave risks. You might be discharged, reduced in rank, or have your service characterized as Other Than Honorable.

A BOI will consider all facts made available to it related to the alleged misconduct, poor performance or conduct incompatible. It will record these facts, and then, its findings.

A BOI is a critical procedure, and the military is required to establish that the weight of the evidence points to guilt. Also, if you are accused, you have the right to refute the evidence presented by the military, present your own evidence, testify and cross examine.

A BOI is made up of 3 voting members, with a Colonel or above presiding, a recorder, a legal adviser, and your attorney.


With so much at stake, you are allowed a number of rights at the hearing. Proving your side of the story is often a matter of choosing the right battle to fight.

  • You are allowed a military attorney, or be allowed to engage a civilian defense attorney, at your own cost.
  • You are allowed reasonable time to prepare. At least 30 days from the date of the show cause notice, but possible, more, depending on the facts of your case.
  • You are allowed full access to the records of the hearing, except documents classified in the interests of national security. Where such classified documents are relevant to your case, you will be provided with a summary, to the extent that national security concerns permit.
  • You are allowed to challenge members of the board.
  • You are allowed to submit evidence, appear in person, testify or choose to remain silent and be represented. If you choose to testify, you may be cross examined. You may also request witnesses to testify, and question your and the military’s witnesses.
  • Before the final decision, you are allowed to:
    • Apply for voluntary retirement, if eligible
    • Resign
    • Request a discharge


If you are recommended for elimination by a BoI, you will have your case referred to a Board of Review. After a review, this Board will make recommendations to the Secretary of the service on whether you should be retained. You cannot appear before the Board of Review, and neither can your attorney. If you are an air force officer, you may be requested to appear before the Board of Review, either in person, through your attorney, or with your attorney.


By the time the matter reaches the Board of Review, it is likely out of your hands. As soon as you receive notification that you are under a command investigation, consider your options because you need an experienced, aggressive attorney.

The BOI is an adversarial procedure, which means that the military will challenge all the evidence and the testimony you present. This can be a great disadvantage if you are not properly represented.

However, an adversarial procedure means that you also have the choice of challenging all the evidence and testimony presented against you. You should make the most of every opportunity available to defend yourself.


Let a Former Service Member Fight Your Case

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