Should I Hire A Civilian Military Attorney?

Do I Need To Hire A Civilian Military Attorney To Help Me?

It’s a good question.

For criminal cases, Administrative Separation Hearings, and Boards of Inquiry the military will assign a free active duty military attorney (JAG) to represent you, but the fact that you are reading this indicates you know that trusting someone “assigned” to handle the most significant event in your life is at least cause for questioning.

First, You Need An Attorney At The First Sign Of Trouble. Right Now!

But active duty military lawyers are usually unavailable to assist until you have formally been charged with a crime, have been told that you will be separated from the military, informed that you will lose your security clearance, etc. MANY cases are lost in those treacherous times between the first sign of trouble and the formal charge. You’ll be confronted with dozens of critical decisions that may seem inconsequential but making the wrong choice could do serious damage to your defense.

DON’T MAKE THESE DECISIONS WITHOUT A LAWYER. If you don’t have a uniformed military attorney, please find a civilian military attorney to help you now. Until then, we advise our clients to remain silent and demand to speak to an attorney before you answer any questions—from command or law enforcement. EVERYONE you speak to and EVERY word you say can be used against you so. This is true even if you believe the conversation to be “private,” or someone promises you confidentiality. With very few exceptions (lawyer, priest, etc.) anyone you speak with may be compelled to tell the authorities what you said.

We can’t tell you how often innocent servicemembers suffered by speaking to the authorities because those leaders made them believe that speaking would be “in their best interest” or that “innocent people don’t need a lawyer.” WRONG!  Innocent people suspected of a crime need a lawyer most. Protect yourself—exercise your rights and call someone who knows how to protect you.

Second, Experience Matters!

MAKE NO MISTAKE, HELPING YOU NAVIGATE THE TREACHEROUS WATERS YOU OR A LOVED ONE ARE FACING TAKES EXPERIENCE. WHILE THE JAGS ASSIGNED TO REPRESENT YOU ARE VERY LIKELY TO BE MOTIVATED, DEDICATED AND TALENTED, THEY ALSO LIKELY LACK THIS MOST CRITICAL OF REQUIREMENTS. THE REASON? THE MILITARY TENDS TO ASSIGN THE DUTY OF DEFENDING OUR SERVICEMEMBERS TO JUNIOR COUNSEL WITH RELATIVELY LITTLE EXPERIENCE IN MILITARY JUSTICE. THEY MAY KNOW THE RULES, THEY MAY BE AGGRESSIVE, BUT EXPERIENCE MATTERS.

“Achieves impressive results, including a not guilty verdict in a complex murder trial.” Navy Captain, 1999

Think of it this way: Military culture is to train us to do a job and then send us off to do it, regardless of experience. While many jobs require a fellowship or duty under instruction, where a more experienced ship-driver, pilot, doctor, etc., supervises and trains the less experienced officer for a period of time, that is not always so with JAGs. For example, Don defended his first murder case, with no supervision, when he was six months into his first tour! Defending a client charged with murder after only passing the bar less than two years before is unthinkable in the civilian world, but the military is different. The JAG assigned to represent you, while likely a capable attorney, may not have the desirable level of experience.

Those of us who have retired after practicing military law for decades are humbled by how much we didn’t know back when we were junior officers defending clients at courts martial and administrative hearings. Whether you’re facing a very delicate spine surgery or a complex board hearing or court martial, EXPERIENCE MATTERS!

“A recognized military justice expert, handpicked to defend the most complex . . . cases, including a Marine charged with espionage and a Commodore charged with dereliction.” Commanding Officer, 2004

A Word About Cost

Hiring an experienced attorney can be a tough financial investment. But don’t stop at cost. Weigh that cost against all you or a loved one has to lose. Many in need of an attorney don’t understand the high cost of losing at a court martial. Consider these:

You may go to prison and be a convicted felon.  Both of these results will not only impact you and your family immediately, they will follow you the rest of your life. You will likely lose your right to vote, to own a firearm, etc. Learn more about the cost of being a convicted felon here.

If the conviction involves a sex offense, you’ll experience significant negative impacts in your life. The Nation’s sex offender registration laws are draconian and extremely severe. You’ll likely be required to register as a sex offender on public, searchable websites like these. You may never be able to live near schools or parks; you may be prohibited from being around children, attending your children’s functions, or coaching their teams; and you’ll be required to disclose this information to on employment applications. This status may also impact your ability to attend institutes of higher education. Learn more about these impacts here.

You may lose your job, your housing allowance, your medical insurance.  Depending on your rank, these benefits can easily add up to over $50-120,000 per year. Getting medical insurance as a civilian will likely cost more than $12,000 per year for an individual and twice that for a family.

You may lose your retirement. The loss of your retirement alone could equate to hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost income to you and your family.

You may lose your VA benefits. Most junior servicemembers don’t understand the value of VA benefits. The best known is perhaps the GI-Bill, which will provide you or a family member nearly $100,000 in education benefits. But there are others, home loans, life insurance, health care, the list goes on. Check here to learn more about the value of the benefits you have earned.

You may be required to pay back enlistment bonuses or Academy education expenses. Academy educations are valued as high as $200,000 and the government will likely “garnish” any future income to recoup these costs.

You may face a lifetime of difficulty in getting future jobs. Most employers will know if you have been separated from the military for disciplinary reasons. If you have a court martial conviction, you will have a felony record, making federal, state or local government jobs nearly impossible to obtain and getting hired into most well-paying civilian jobs very difficult.

Be Informed! Click here to learn more about the consequences of a conviction.

These costs are not listed to scare you, but to inform you. Too often, clients don’t consider these costs. Please consider them now. There is an INCREDIBLE amount riding on the outcome of this process…you are absolutely correct in searching for the best team to help you fight to avoid these outcomes. An experienced legal team can make a world of difference in that fight.

Whether you team up with Don or another experienced civilian military lawyer, or decide to go forward with your uniformed attorney, make sure you have as much experience on your team as possible.

If you have additional questions, please give us a call and let us see if we can help.

King Military Law: Decades of Experience in YOUR Corner–When Experience Matters Most

Google Reviews

King Military Law
5.0
Based on 44 reviews
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Ariel DifoAriel Difo
02:32 17 Feb 24
I was told by my command and even military lawyers that my separation from the military was inevitable and that there was no way to fight it. I lost all hope was going to accept my separation from the military. But, thanks to the guidance of Mr. King, I was encouraged to fight for my name and was even able to win my board with the help of Mr. King and his Firm. Angela and Kasheta were always there to assist me with any questions or concerns I had, and Angela did an amazing job scrutinizing the discovery and finding many flaws with the accusations. It was their hard work and dedication that eventually led to me being retained in the military. Mr. King was always professional and instilled confidence in me that I had nothing to fear. I would highly recommend his firm, knowing that his team will give you one hundred percent of their efforts and help you fight for what's right.
Adam WAdam W
00:27 10 Feb 24
Don and his team at King Military Law are truly incredible people. It's rare that you can call a law firm and speak directly with a lawyer, let alone someone like Don. He gave my father and I exactly the information we needed despite the challenges that ensued. It gave us hope in a very difficult time. Even afterwards, he's done everything he can to help me and my family take action and hopefully help many others in the process. Thank you Don 🙏
cforceman1cforceman1
19:16 09 Feb 24
I recently hired Don King and his team for my legal situation and they delivered expertly. I was not sure what my options were and they laid it out for me in a way I can understand. There are no guarantees when it comes to legal situations but I was lucky that I went with what I came to see was the best in the game. Give them a call. I wish you the same result that I had especially with Angela and Kasheta on the case too.
B MB M
21:58 24 Jan 24
Potentially found myself on the wrong side of an NJP that would have jeopardized my military career and discharge. This was not only a threat to my meticulously built reputation, but also to my future after military service. I was incredibly worried with no idea who to contact or trust.Here comes King's Law Firm - they are a dedicated and diligent team, filled with experienced professionals that have seen almost anything a service member can encounter. This is crucial - they have the unique perspective to provide comprehensive and informed legal advice. Upon listening to my situation, they instantly had a plan of action for me. This provided so much clarity and much needed relief.I cannot stress how beneficial the King Law Firm team has been to me. I need to shout out Ms. De La Garza - she actively listen to me for well over 20 minutes so that she could have the most accurate understanding of my situation. Her attentive nature tied with vast experience makes her such an invaluable asset to have on your side.I deeply appreciate the help, and will certainly use your firm in the future!
Lucas VazquezLucas Vazquez
01:43 11 Jan 24
If you're seeking legal assistance, King Military Law is where you need to go. I was going through legal issues with my command, Mr. King and his staff did above and beyond to help me. From making me feel comfortable and guiding me throughout the case. I can't thank them enough.
Christopher EsquivelChristopher Esquivel
03:25 05 Dec 23
Mr. King is very knowledgeable in military law. He was able to help me and made sure to explain everything in the most simple terms so that I can ensure I was in good hands. He is quick to help you address the issues you are going through and help you find solutions.
kyle doughertykyle dougherty
01:23 02 Nov 23
Don King and his practice, "King Military Law," have been an absolute game-changer in my life. From the moment I spoke to Don for a free consultation over a year ago, I knew I was making the right choice. The journey that followed has been nothing short of extraordinary.I had the opportunity to consult with several military lawyers, but it was Don's unwavering commitment and his word that won me over. He assured me he would stand by my side, and that promise has been upheld most remarkably. Don, along with his exceptional paralegals, Angela and Katesha, embarked on a tireless journey to fight for my rights and my future.The most significant battle they helped me win was against an administrative separation board. The dedication and diligence they put into my case were unparalleled. They left no stone unturned, meticulously examining every detail and aspect of my situation. Their level of commitment to my case was nothing short of inspiring.What truly sets Don King and his team apart is their exceptional communication. They consistently went above and beyond, ensuring I was informed at every stage. Their accessibility and willingness to answer any questions I had, no matter the time or day, gave me peace of mind during what could have been an extremely stressful period for my family and me.Don and his team didn't just treat my case as another file; they treated it as a number one priority. Their genuine care and concern for my well-being and the well-being of my witnesses were evident throughout our time together. They provided support and advocacy that goes above and beyond the call of duty.In conclusion, I couldn't be more thrilled with my experience with King Military Law. Don King and his exceptional team have met and exceeded my expectations in every way. If you need military legal representation, I wholeheartedly recommend Don King and his practice. They are not just legal professionals; they are compassionate allies who will fight relentlessly to ensure that justice prevails. Thank you, Don King and King Military Law, for giving me a second chance and being the unwavering support I needed during a challenging time. You are nothing short of amazing.
Cody WhortonCody Whorton
04:54 21 Oct 23
I am a Chief Petty Officer; I have served for our world’s finest Navy for 13 years. Unfortunately, I had a potential career ending legal event that threatened me with an administrative separation board. After calling numerous lawyers in San Diego, I called Mr. Don King and his legal team. Let me tell you, it was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. After speaking with Mr. King, I immediately felt that I had the best legal representation that I could possibly find. I WAS RIGHT! Don is the most honest, hard-working, and compassionate lawyer you are going to find! His team fought for me like I was their son. His team is super responsive and always helpful. They were very knowledgeable and were able to answer all my questions regarding the process. Don’s paralegal Angela would always ensure all required documentation was in order and received in a timely manner. She would even talk to me when I was feeling down and ensured I was making the right decisions on my part. Don fought at my board like it was the last day on earth. This is the best legal team in San Diego. If you choose only one lawyer, choose Mr. Don King and his legal team. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT! Thank you, King family! My wife and I will never forget what you did to help us win this battle.
Scott PRESTIGIOCOMOScott PRESTIGIOCOMO
00:29 14 Oct 23
Had a conversation today with Mr king about a military court case 2000 miles away and spoke with over 20 other attorneys and not 5 of them combined gave me the amount of advice that he did himself! Very well educated in his field with a wealth of knowledge. I have multiple high end attorneys on retainer here in my state so I’m not foreign to well experienced attorneys and this man was what I am familiar with when it comes to well experienced. Sad that I had to swim thru a pool of uneducated attorneys whom claimed to be the best in their field only to find out that they had no clue to what seemed to myself and my legal/political friends to be a somewhat simple question for someone claiming to be a pro! This man is the real deal! This is not a paid or fake comment and I have never met this person who is very far from here and he helped me as if I was standing in front of him! Even as he was walking his dog he took his own time to get back to me. If you’re looking for a legit attorney then you’ve found him! I’d give more stars if possible. I’ll be telling my friends on the west coast in the area about you. Thank you for your time sir!
Jess SackettJess Sackett
20:19 15 Sep 23
Mr King recently defended my daughter for misconduct. His defense ended with a unanimous board decision clearing my daughter of that charge. Mr King was tenacious and unrelenting in her case. His staff are true professionals and highly skilled and experienced in preparing the cases. If you or someone you know needs a lawyer who will fight for you Mr King is the one you want in your corner.
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