CG Defense Services
The Defense Services Division (CG-LMA-D) provides qualified military defense counsel to Coast Guard members facing disciplinary proceedings and adverse personnel actions. This includes providing consultation for military justice concerns, representing members at administrative boards and courts-martial, and serving as detailed appellate defense counsel.
If you need legal advice, we’re here for you!
Opportunities to Speak with Defense Attorney
Coast Guard members may be subject to any number of disciplinary proceedings and/or adverse personnel actions. To help members navigate the complexities of the disciplinary and administrative systems they are often times entitled to have military defense counsel detailed to help represent their interests. But, there are other times, typically in the early stages of investigations, when members may want to discuss matters with a military defense attorney before they receive detailed counsel. This type of advocacy is known as “Walk-in Advocacy” or Personal Representation “Persrep.”
Generally, a Coast Guard member is able to contact a military defense attorney during regular business hours to discuss member advocacy issues. This contact is generally accomplished by a member walking into a Navy Defense Service Office (DSO) and requesting counsel or by calling a supporting DSO and setting up an appointment. These services are available to the member whether or not they will eventually be detailed a defense counsel. If you think you may need to speak with an attorney or receive legal defense advice it is best to make an appointment with a defense attorney at the first possible opportunity to have a conversation that cannot be disclosed to anyone without your consent.
A Coast Guard member is entitled to a detailed military defense attorney in a number of instances. Some examples include: (1) after court-martial charges are preferred against a member (in anticipation of a Special or General Court-Martial) (2) upon notification of intent to convene an Administrative Separation Board in the case of an enlisted member or upon notice of intent to convene a Board of Inquiry in the case of an officer.
Whether a service member speaks with a detailed military defense attorney over the phone or meets with a military defense attorney on a walk-in basis, all those conversations are confidential and cannot be disclosed. And, not only are those conversations protected by a legal privilege, the defense attorney is required to provide guidance and advocacy that is in the member’s best interest.
Locating Defense Counsel
Defense services are frequently provided to Coast Guard members by Navy Defense Counsel or Coast Guard Defense Counsel assigned to the Navy Defense Service Office (DSO). As a result, Coast Guard members requesting walk-in advocacy should normally contact their nearest DSO. Members may also contact CG-LMA-D for assistance.
For a complete list of available DSO locations, see the website below. http://www.jag.navy.mil/legal_services/legal_services_locator_dso.htm.
CG-LMA-D can be contacted via email at HQS-DG-LST-CG-LMA-D@uscg.mil or via phone at 202- 372-3830.
If you need defense assistance call; we are here to support you.
Legal Services Provided
Below is a list of legal services provided to CG members. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. If you feel you need to speak with a defense attorney please contact the nearest servicing Defense Service Office (DSO) for an appointment.
*All matters followed by an asterisk are best addressed by contacting CG-LMA-D directly.
Administrative Separations (ADSEP)
A service member may be recommended for early termination (administrative separation) for a number of reasons to include alleged misconduct and poor job performance. When a command initiates separation proceedings against a service member, the command will provide the member with a memorandum describing why the command is separating the member and the least favorable type of discharge authorized. This form also serves to notify the member of their opportunity to elect or waive certain rights including the right to consult with a military defense attorney. It is highly recommended that a member consult with a defense counsel to further discuss the process and any rights afforded members during the ADSEP processing.
Article 31b Rights (Rights Warning)
Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice states: “No person subject to this chapter” [that means everyone in uniform plus CGIS special agents and civilian police officers in military police departments] may interrogate or request any statement from a [servicemember] accused or suspected of an offense without first:
Informing the member of the nature of the accusation;
Advising the member that they do not have to make any statement regarding the offense which they are accused or suspected; and,
Informing the member that any statement made may be used as evidence against them in a trial by court-martial.
Furthermore, if you are suspected of a crime, you have the absolute right to speak with a lawyer before being questioned by law enforcement personnel or command reps about the crime. It is highly recommended that a member consult with a defense counsel to further discuss the process and any rights afforded members in situations where Article 31b warnings are warranted.
Complaints of Wrongs ( Article 138 complaints)
The UCMJ provides that any member of the Coast Guard who believes himself wronged by his commanding officer has the right to officially, in writing, complain to any superior commissioned officer and request redress for such wrongs. Generally, an Article 138 complaint should be filed within 90 days of the alleged wrong, and all complaints must be in the proper format. If you need assistance with an Article 138 complaint you may contact a defense attorney at the DSO.
Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP)
Non-judicial Punishment (NJP) is a disciplinary measure more serious than administrative corrective measures, but less serious than trial by court-martial. Members will receive a 5810B and 4910 which includes:
Notice of consideration of imposition of NJP;
Statement describing alleged offenses;
A brief summary of the information upon which the allegations are based;
Statement of the member’s rights.
The Coast Guard’s rules involving NJP can be a little tricky, because some members can demand court-martial in lieu of NJP while those attached to or embarked on a vessel cannot. Also, based on the situation, some commands will facilitate a member’s ability to consult with a military defense counsel to discuss the NJP while others will not. In those situations where the commands do not facilitate a member’s ability to consult with a military defense counsel, a member may arrange to consult with a military defense counsel, either in person or over the phone. It is highly recommended that a member consult with a defense counsel upon notification of NJP proceedings against them to further discuss the process and any rights afforded members during the NJP process.
Non-Judicial Punishment Appeal
If a Coast Guard member, during an NJP proceeding, is found to have committed the offense(s) alleged, the member has the right to appeal the punishment as unjust or disproportionate within five days of imposition of punishment.
Prior to submitting an NJP appeal the member may consult with a defense attorney for advice and counsel on formatting and submission requirements. It is highly recommended that a member consult with a defense counsel to further discuss the process and any rights afforded members during the NJP process.
Summary Court-Martial (SCM)
A summary court-martial is a disciplinary proceeding meant to adjudicate minor offenses with a simple procedure. A Coast Guard member is not entitled to a detailed defense counsel when appearing at a summary court-martial, however a Coast Guard member will be given the opportunity to speak with or consult with a military defense counsel. It is highly recommended that a member consult with a defense counsel to further discuss the process and rights afforded members at a SCM proceeding.
General and Special Court-Martial
A court-martial is a federal criminal trial composed of a military judge and jury members (although the accused can also choose to be tried by judge alone). A service member will be detailed a military defense counsel throughout the court-martial process. The accused also has the right to retain a civilian counsel at no cost to the government. If a member has reason to believe charges may be preferred against them and they are being taken to a court-martial, it is highly recommended that the member consult with a defense counsel as early as possible to further discuss the process and any rights afforded members during the court-martial process.
Military Pre-trial Confinement
Members may be placed in pre-trial confinement if there is probable cause to believe a member has committed an offense under the UCMJ, it is foreseeable the individual would flee or commit serious criminal misconduct, and that lesser forms of restraint (e.g., restriction) are inadequate. A member placed in military pre-trial confinement will be afforded an opportunity to consult with a military defense attorney.(This consultation is facilitated by the confinement facility.)
Military Pre-trial restriction/ condition on liberty
Pre-trial restraint limits the movements and actions of service members prior to trial. It may not be used as a form of punishment. In addition, there must be a reasonable belief that: the member committed an offense under the UCMJ and the restraint is required by the circumstances (generally, when the member may be a danger to the community or is a flight risk). A member placed in pre-trial restriction is authorized and probably should contact the DSO for legal advice.
Relief for Cause (RFC)*
A relief for cause (RFC) is the administrative suspension and possible removal of a commanding officer (CO), officer in charge (OIC), executive petty officer (XPO), engineer petty officer (EPO), or a designated full-time command master/senior chief (CMC/CSC) from their current duty assignment before the planned rotation date. It normally consists of a two-step process: (1) suspension from position through a temporary relief for cause and (2) a possible permanent relief for cause.
Members being recommended for relief are entitled to submit a statement on their behalf. Prior to submitting a statement, a member may consult with a military defense counsel at CG-LMA-D for advice. It is highly recommended that a member consult with a defense counsel upon notification of relief action to further discuss the process and rights afforded members during the RFC process.
Line of Duty (LOD) Determination *
When a member is injured, their command is required to conduct an investigation to determine whether the injuries are attributed to military service. This investigation and subsequent results are what is known as a LOD determination. If a command determines that a formal hearing is necessary due to an adverse LOD finding a member will be detailed a military defense counsel. If you have questions regarding a LOD, contact CG-LMA-D for advice. If is highly recommended that a member consult with a defense counsel to further discuss the process and any rights afforded members during the LOD process.
Members with a security clearance may receive a security revocation notification if circumstances arise that cause the organization to question whether the member can continue to be entrusted with access to classified material. During the security revocation process, members are normally permitted to appeal the decision. During the appeal process a member may consult with a military defense counsel. It is highly recommended that a member consult with a defense counsel to further discuss the process and rights afforded members during the Security Revocation Process.
Each member of the Coast Guard enlisted workforce must meet specific eligibility requirements during their enlistment period in order to be eligible for reenlistment. They must also gain the endorsement of their command. If a member is informed that they are either ineligible for reenlistment or not recommended for reenlistment it is highly recommended that the member contact CG-LMA-D to further discuss the process and any rights afforded members during the reenlistment process.
Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Incompetency Reduction Board
The Coast Guard may initiate a CPO Incompetency Reduction Board in those cases where it has been clearly demonstrated that a member is no longer qualified to perform the duties of the rating for which designated. Members will be detailed a defense attorney for their incompetency board. It is highly recommended that a member consult with a defense counsel to further discuss the process and any rights afforded to the member during the CPO Incompetency Reduction Board.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why must I go to the Navy Defense Service Office (DSO) for Military Justice Advice?
A. The Coast Guard partners with the Navy to ensure our members receive the best possible advice and counsel. The Navy is fully qualified to provide answers to any military justice question you may have. There are also Coast Guard attorneys assigned to each DSO region who provide support to Coast Guard and Navy members.
Q. Will I meet with a Coast Guard Attorney if I go to the DSO for Military Justice Advice?
A. Depends. There are Coast Guard attorneys assigned to each DSO region however, members will be seen by the attorney available on the day of your visit. Whether you speak with a Coast Guard or Navy Attorney, the attorney meeting with you is fully qualified to provide answers to any military justice question.
Q. What if I am not allowed to visit a DSO for Military Justice Advice?
A. Military Justice appointments are available in person and sometimes over the phone. Please call your nearest DSO or LMA-D for further information regarding scheduling a phone consultation.
Q. Do I need to be formally charged with a crime before contacting a military defense attorney?
A. NO. If you are concerned that you may need to talk to an attorney, then you probably do. Contact the DSO to schedule an appointment.
Q. Are my communications with a military defense attorney confidential?
A. YES. If you are speaking with a defense attorney your communications cannot be disclosed without your consent.
Q. What rights do I have regarding making statements?
A If you are suspected of committing misconduct, then any attempt to interview you should begin with the investigator or command representative informing you that you are suspected of a specific violation. They will also inform you of your right to remain silent and the right to speak with an attorney prior to making a statement. CG-LMA-D strongly encourages service members to seek legal advice with the nearest DSO prior to making any official or unofficial, written or oral statements or consenting to any search.
At the conclusion of every court-martial, the member’s case will be reviewed by either a judge advocate or an appellate court. The type of initial review depends on the adjudged sentence. CG-LMA-D details a CG appellate defense attorney to represent CG members before the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals (CGCCA), the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF), and the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). The CGCCA has the power to review matters of law and factual sufficiency, and if the court is not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused, it has the power to overturn the finding of guilty and any sentence imposed. After the CGCCA makes a decision, if the Coast Guard member desires, the member may seek further review by the CAAF and SCOTUS. Additionally, CG-LMA-D assists members in parole and clemency petitions before the CG Residual Clemency Board.
If you have questions regarding appellate assistance contact us at: