We are able to advise and represent you in relation to all aspects of the service criminal justice system, from attendance at initial service police interviews to representation at Court Martial and the various appeal Courts. Whilst the service criminal justice system is similar an may ways to the civilian system, we recognise and understand the unique aspects of service investigations and prosecutions. Please read the information below but if you have any specific queries, please contact Roy James on 01733 34066 for assistance.
Service Police Interviews.
If you are being investigated by service police (or civilian police) and are to be interviewed under caution either under arrest or voluntarily you are entitled to free and independent legal advice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week either in person or on the telephone. This right exists whether your interview is on base, on tour or conduced at a civilian police station.
Ask the police to contact Devas Keogh James to act on your behalf at the interview and the police or military police will make contact with us for you. Alternatively, contact us direct on 01733 340666 and we will attend to act on your behalf anywhere in the world.
Although legal aid is not available for summary hearings, you are still entitled to be advised by a solicitor about your rights and entitlements. Please contact Roy James on 01733 340666 for assistance.
Summary Appeal Court, Court Martial and Court Martial Appeal Court
Legal Aid is available for proceedings in these Courts. The application will be processed by the Armed Forces Legal Aid Authority. You may however be required to pay a contribution towards your Legal Aid. Please let your service staff know that you wish to be represented by Devas Keogh James.
Service police are the formations of the British armed forces responsible for policing armed forces personnel. Each of the services has its own service police branch.
The Royal Navy is policed by the Royal Navy Police.
The British Army is policed by the Royal Military Police.
The Royal Air Force is policed by the Royal Air Force Police
The Special Investigation Branch (SIB) is the name given to the detective branches of all three Service police arms.
If you are arrested by the service police in connection with an alleged military offence, you have the right to have a solicitor present at your interview. This is irrespective of where you are serving in the world. We will be able to represent you at a service police interview wherever that interview takes place.
You may be asked to attend for a voluntary interview. If that is the case your rights are exactly the same.
Yo are always entitled to speak to a solicitor before being interviewed by service police.
Remember, legal advice in relation to service police interviews is always free.
If you have been arrested or asked to attend a voluntary interview, you should contact Roy James on 01733 340666. He will be happy to assist you.
Once the service police concludes their investigation, they may refer your case to the SPA.
The SPA is the prosecuting authority within the Service Justice System and is responsible for the prosecution of service offences before the Service Courts, which include, the Court Martial, the Court Martial Appeal Court, the Service Civilian Court and the Summary Appeal Court.
The SPA may also work closely with and provide advice to the service police forces in respect of the investigation of your case.
In the event of a referral from the service police, the SPA:
In addition the SPA works closely with and provides advice to the Service Police Forces in respect to the investigation of offences.
The SPA is the service equivalent of the Crown Prosecution Service.
Your Commanding Officer may deal with you for certain minor disciplinary or criminal offences in a Summary Hearing, but you have the absolute right to elect for trial in the Court Martial should you not want your Commanding Officer to deal with the matter. This is the case regardless of the seriousness of the charge. A Commanding Officer has powers of punishment up to 28 days’ detention, which may in some circumstances be extended to 90 days’ detention. You may appeal your Commanding Officer’s decision to the Summary Appeal Court.
If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of a summary hearing, you always have the right of appeal to the Summary Appeal Court, which is conducted by a Judge Advocate accompanied by two officers. This is modelled on an appeal from a Magistrates’ Court to the Crown Court.
If your case is ultimately dealt with by a Court Martial you should be aware of the following:
The Court Martial has global jurisdiction over all service personnel and civilians subject to service discipline (e.g. family members, civilian contractors, teachers, administrative staff when serving abroad) and hears all types of criminal case including murder and serious sexual offences.
Serious matters, including both offences against the civilian criminal law and specifically military disciplinary offences, may be tried in the Court Martial. A Judge Advocate conducts the trial which is broadly similar to a civilian Crown Court trial in all cases, even when dealing with a minor disciplinary or criminal offence.
The jury, known as the board, comprises between three and seven commissioned officers or Warrant Officers depending on the seriousness of the case. Having listened to the Judge Advocate’s directions on the law and summary of the evidence, they are responsible for finding you guilty or not guilty.
Following a finding or plea of guilty, the board joins the Judge Advocate to decide on sentence. The Court Martial has the same sentencing powers in relation to imprisonment as a Crown Court, including life imprisonment.
The Court Martial mirrors the Crown Court in practice, procedure and sentencing powers with important additional features:
Court Martial proceedings normally take place at one of two military Court centres at Catterick or Bulford, or occasionally at the Court Centre at Sennelager, Germany. However the Court Martial is mobile and cases can take place worldwide.
We are able to represent you wherever in the world your case is heard.
If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of a Court Martial you are entitled to seek permission to appeal to the Court Martial Appeal Court. Martial (as the Court of Appeal Criminal Division is named when dealing with Service cases), and ultimately to the Supreme Court. We will advise you as to whether you have grounds to appeal and if so prepare the appeal on your behalf. We may be able to assist even if we did not represent you at the original Court Martial.