March 17, 2023 | Written By Toni O’Neill, Partner
Why You Need to Hire Civilian Counsel to Fight the Military With You.
When under suspicion, investigation, or facing charges as a military member, you must ensure you are doing everything possible to save your career, your freedom, and your future. Are your best odds to trust the military defense counsel randomly assigned to your case? Will they have the experience and skill to defend you? Is settling for an acceptable lawyer, truly doing everything you can?
But maybe you get lucky; maybe you happen to be stationed at the same base as the best base-level defense counsel. And, maybe that counsel is available to try your case. Suppose they don’t have a heavy workload and they’re able to truly focus all of their time and energy on you, right now, when you need them most. And maybe, that young officer, only a few years out of law school, has the experience and talent to defend you in the most trying time of your life. Still, feeling lucky?
I get it; the military is giving you a free lawyer, so why should you pay for one? Is it really worth it? Perhaps you’re tempted to trust your assigned military defense attorney and save yourself the money. Here’s the thing— I’m a gambler; I played poker professionally in law school and believe me when I say I understand the instinct to just roll the dice. Except that this is it for you; there are no second chances. If you lose a gamble at a court-martial you could go to jail, possibly for months or even years, and it could be nearly impossible to get your life back on track after your federal conviction.
Hiring an experienced military defense attorney, especially a good one, will be expensive. But let’s put into perspective how much it’s worth. Think of it this way: if you are an E-6 with twelve years of time in service and you end up going to jail for ten months, your lost paycheck during that time will directly cost you at least $60,000 in pay and allowances alone. Add in the life-long costs of that federal conviction and that experience in jail. Now, add the cost of your security clearance, not to mention the loss of your military retirement, along with any promising post-military job prospects.
“When I put it that way it doesn’t seem so expensive, does it? Do whatever it takes to fight for your freedom. Don’t let your future be the place where you take your chances.
The base-level counsel assigned to you, that used to be me. Their boss, the one with way more experience than them, that used to be me too. Twice. And I was arguably the best. The clients who walked in my door or were assigned to me were lucky. But they were representative of less than a quarter of one percent of military members charged at any given time.
Many clients walk into the office of a military defense counsel who has never won a case like theirs, let alone handled one. The attorney may have been nervous or unsure in court or lacked the time needed to devote to the case. Depending on the service and their policy, an attorney may not even be assigned to assist until the process is well underway, long after mistakes have been made that cannot be fixed, or opportunities missed that may not come again.
If you have a military lawyer, ask them these questions:
How many cases have you tried?
How many of those were fully litigated (not guilty pleas)?
How many did you win?
How many clients do you have right now?
Do you have all the time you need to prepare my defense?
What is your plan for my case?
What can I do to help prepare for my case?
How will you work with my military defense counsel?
Carefully consider the answers you get. Maybe you like them; maybe you don’t. But, maybe you are unsure. Call me for a free consultation and ask me the same questions. If you like my answers better, then let’s talk more about your situation and how I can help.
No outcome can ever be guaranteed, and don’t trust any lawyer who makes a guarantee about the outcome of your case. But, what I can promise you is honesty and dedication. I will tell you in our first consultation whether I am the best attorney for you and why or why not. If I am, and you hire me, I promise I will fight for you, I will do everything I can for you, and we will be in this together.
Call or email me for a consultation! Don’t wait any longer—the sooner I get involved the sooner I can start to help change your luck. firstname.lastname@example.org I 202-871-7480
Toni Quinn O’Neill is a Partner with Parlatore Law Group and a highly sought-after attorney in the specialties of criminal defense and military law. With a passion for the courtroom, she has represented a myriad of clients, from general officers to newly enlisted recruits, and has litigated over 130 felony and misdemeanor criminal trials to verdict or dismissal as a defense attorney with an extraordinarily high acquittal rate.
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