Soldiers that are charged with a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) can propose other punishment options instead of a “BCD” (Bad Conduct Discharge) courts-martial trial. An example of an alternative punishment would be a “Chapter 10” (Other Than Honorable) administrative discharge from the military. This option avoids a trial or potential federal criminal conviction. While a Chapter 10 may have an adverse impact on a person’s work career in the civilian world for jobs that require background security checks, (e.g., Police Officer), the option is better than a criminal conviction. If a soldier takes an “Other Than Honorable” Chapter 10 discharge, the soldier can, at a later date, petition to modify/upgrade the discharge to a General Discharge or even an Honorable Discharge. Another alternate punishment option is an “Article 15” internal punishment, which usually includes loss of pay and extra duty, but no public criminal record. If the soldier facing a military criminal trial does not ask about options other than a courts-martial, these options are often never considered by the military chain-of-command. The worst that can happen if an alternate punishment is requested by a soldier is for the chain-of-command to deny the soldier’s request for an alternate punishment and the case proceeds to trial.
If you are in Tennessee or Ft. Campbell, Kentucky and have questions about rules regarding military law, call the Law Office of Gregory D. Smith, 931/647-1299 or visit www.gsmithlawfirm.com. Mr. Smith is listed in Mid-South Super Lawyers and is A-V rated by Martindale-Hubbell. You can read a featured article about Mr. Smith in the November, 2019 ABA Journal, (the national magazine of the American Bar Association), at http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/tennessee-attorney-greg-smith.