More than a dozen states, including California, have taken steps to legalize or decriminalize some recreational drug use. Federal laws, on the other hand, have not followed suit. For military personnel, this means even minor offenses are a serious problem.
Article 112(a) of the Uniform Code of Military Conduct prohibits the distribution, possession or use of controlled substances. This is a zero tolerance of illegal drug use with harsh consequences even when the infractions occur off-base. These include:
- A positive drug test
- Refusing to test
- Selling, distributing, manufacturing or trafficking illegal drugs
- Possession of drugs or paraphernalia
The consequence of a conviction
A drug conviction can involve different serious and life-changing that affect your career. The penalties typically include the following:
- Bad Conduct discharge: This isn’t a court-martial, but it can lead to a dishonorable discharge and all revocations and punishments that it entails. The defendant cannot reenlist in any branch of the military.
- Incarceration: Cases resulting in a court martial can then get turned over to civilian charges with the possibility of jail time.
- Felony charge: These offenses impact careers outside the military and can include a long-term sentence.
Non-judicial punishment or court martial
Drug charges in any branch can be a court martial. Personnel may also have the option for non-judicial punishment (NJP) if it’s a wrongful use case. Those offered less formal NJP may find it more desirable because it means a severe punishment, but you forfeit your right to due process and an attorney to defend your interests.
Don’t go without a fight
Those facing charges can benefit from an experienced military law attorney who can protect their professional interests and legal rights by mounting a well-prepared and aggressive defense.