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Various verdicts to resolve civilian criminal matters

On Behalf of | Aug 11, 2022 | Military Law |

In this series on the difference between court-martials and civilian cases, we look at the potential verdicts and the rules governed by both civilian and military courts.

Various options exist for both civilians and members of the military when it comes to resolving criminal matters.

Guilty pleas

Military service members have the choice of a guilty plea if they believe that they are responsible for criminal acts. Nolo contendere pleas are not allowed, even though Rules of Federal Criminal procedure will accept them. Those types of pleas mean that the defendant, while conceding to accept the punitive outcome, does not take or deny responsibility for the charges. In addition, the plea cannot be used against the defendant in any other cause of action.

Alford guilty pleas

Alford guilty pleas and the doctrine is a guilty plea in criminal court proceedings. The defendant does not have to confess to illegal activity while still claiming innocence. Their admission involves the evidence that the prosecution presented that could convince a judge or jury to render a guilty verdict beyond a reasonable doubt.

Federal and state courts allow for Alford. However, a handful of states and the USAF do not recognize the plea.

A providence or Care inquiry must commence to be found guilty or for a member to plead guilty. Care inquiries result from the United States v. Care, mandating that a judge instructs the accused on the law and questions the defendant’s guilty plea to establish a basis for a guilty verdict.

Split verdicts

Civilian criminal justice proceedings at the federal and almost all states, excluding Oregon and Louisiana, require unanimous verdicts. Conversely, military criminal justice systems do not allow for mistrials. Instead, they will take split rulings, one of the few jurisdictions accepting it.

Complex legal matters in civilian or criminal courts require legal counsel with knowledge, experience, and success in both venues.