PRACTICE AREAS
MILITARY LAW

The firm of Gross & Esparza, P.L.L.C., represents military personnel who stand accused or are under investigation for various Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) offenses stated in the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM). We represent clients at every stage of a military justice proceeding, from preferral to referral of charges, from Article 32 investigations through litigated courts-martial to military appeals. We represent individuals who have received Article 15 Non-Judicial Punishment from their commanders or are facing administrative discharge from their units. We prepare response packages for and personally appear before commanders at Article 15 proceedings on behalf of our clients. We have frequently obtained favorable outcomes for our clients at Article 15 proceedings. We also represent persons before the Board for Correction of Military Records and through clemency submissions pursuant to Rule 1105 of the Rules for Courts-Martial (RCM).

The firm of Gross & Esparza, P.L.L.C. , has extensive experience representing military members at each level of courts-martial. There are three types of courts-martial: summary, special, and general. As experienced military defense counsel, we know the procedures and rules of courts-martial used at each type of court-martial. Our experience and knowledge allows us to effectively defend military members at all levels of courts-martial. Both Mr. Gross and Mr. Esparza have litigated general courts-martial and special courts-martial and have litigated such diverse military offenses as murder, child abuse, sodomy, manslaughter, malingering, failure to obey order, rape, false official statements, desertion, indecent acts, other sex offenses, arson, theft, and wrongful use/possession of controlled substances. Both Mr. Gross and Mr. Esparza have obtained full acquittals from military juries in past cases and have successfully litigated Article 32 investigations for both officer and enlisted accused where the investigating officer later recommended to the convening authority that no charges be referred for court-martial.

Both Mr. Gross and Mr. Esparza have represented officer and enlisted personnel. Both attorneys in the firm have experience in correcting all forms of bad paper from Letters of Counseling to Letters of Reprimand which, depending on the member's situation, may result in loss of licensure or privileges for a particular field, loss of security clearance, or loss of promotion opportunity. Few firms have the depth of understanding regarding military cases and their consequences as does the firm of Gross & Esparza, P.L.L.C. Any military accused who is facing military criminal charges should know the basics about the level of court-martial that will hear his or her case. We provide the following information only as a general overview of the different levels of courts-martial. The information is not intended to be all-inclusive as each military member's case is different. To get information specifically tailored to your case, please contact the attorneys at the firm of Gross & Esparza, P.L.L.C.

Summary Court-Martial

Presiding Official

A military judge does not preside over a summary court-martial. Rather, an active duty officer heads the proceeding.

Punishment Limitations

The maximum possible punishment a member faces at a summary court-martial is limited. The limitations depend on the rank of the member being court-martialed. Regardless of rank, a summary court-martial cannot sentence a military member to a punitive discharge, i.e. a bad conduct or dishonorable discharge.

Some of the Rights Available at a Summary Court-Martial

A military member does not have a right to detailed military counsel at summary court-martial, although many services may try to provide one. A military member may always hire civilian defense counsel who may assist the member in preparing for trial, be present at the hearing, and present a defense. As the accused member, you have the right to inspect the evidence that will be used against you, a right to make motions for appropriate relief, a right to call witnesses, and a right to cross-examine any witnesses called against you. In the event of conviction, a member may submit a clemency packet requesting relief from the sentence Additionally, a member has the right to object to trial by summary court-martial. Such a decision, however, should not be made lightly because any objection to trial by summary court-martial may result in the convening authority referring your case to a more severe level of court-martial.

General and Special Courts-Martial

Presiding Official

A military judge presides over general and special courts-martial. At a special court-martial, a member may elect to have a panel of not less than three service members decide his guilt or innocence and his sentence. At a general court-martial, a member may elect to have a panel of not less than five service members decide his guilt or innocence and his sentence. These members can be all officers or, if the member is enlisted, a mixture of officer and enlisted military members. At either type of court-martial, the member may also request trial by military judge alone.

Punishment Limitations

At a special court-martial, the maximum possible punishment a military member faces is limited to a bad-conduct discharge, confinement for twelve months, reduction to the lowest enlisted grade, and forfeiture of two-thirds pay per month for twelve months.

At a general court-martial, a member faces the maximum punishment authorized by the MCM for the offense for which the member is convicted. For example, a member convicted of malingering in violation of Article 115 of the UCMJ may be sentenced by a general court-martial to a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for five years, whereas a member convicted of rape, sexual assault or other sexual misconduct in violation of Article 120 of the UCMJ faces punishment as a court-martial may direct.

Some of the Rights Available at General and Special Courts-Martial

A military member has the right to a detailed military counsel and a member may hire civilian defense counsel. Counsel are responsible for making motions, interviewing witnesses, investigating potential defenses, and preparing a defense. A member has the same right to inspect the evidence that will be used against him or her, a right to make motions for appropriate relief, a right to call witnesses, and a right to cross-examine any government witnesses that testify.

At a general court-martial, a member has the additional right to an Article 32 investigation (a pretrial investigation into the charges) to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support the charges.

If convicted, the member can put forth extenuation and mitigation evidence, i.e. witnesses to testify about the member's record of strong duty performance and good character, to justify the rendering of a lenient sentence from the jury or court. After the court-martial, the member may submit a clemency packet to the convening authority requesting sentence relief.

The attorneys at Gross & Esparza, P.L.L.C., are qualified to represent you at all types of court-martial and will bring our experience to bear on your legal situation.

Quotes from military judge advocates regarding Mr. Gross:


"Premier advocate for the defense . . . draws the hard case files . . . does a beautiful job of case preparation and is a natural in the courtroom."

Staff Judge Advocate, Colonel, USMC, 3D Marine Division


"He is uniformly recognized as the premier defense counsel . . . [he] represents the best of the attorneys within our system . . . his tightly reasoned arguments bring the facts and law together into a focused and professional product every time . . . [his] efforts on behalf of clients have always reflected sound, mature judgment . . . [he] possesses extraordinary court-room ability . . ."

Staff Judge Advocate, Colonel, USMC, 3D Marine Division


"Outstanding trial advocate . . . mastered the rules of evidence and, a more difficult task, learned to use them effectively . . . tempered with a keen sense of strategy."

General Court-Martial Military Judge, Lieutenant Colonel, USMC


"Meticulously well prepared . . . his command of the rules of evidence and prodigious motion writing were always highlights of his cases . . . I was impressed with his ability to focus on issues that were outcome determinative . . . he was the best defense counsel out of the twenty who worked for me."

Senior Marine Corps Defense Counsel, 3D FSSG

1524 N. Alamo St.     San Antonio, TX 78215     Phone (210) 354-1919     Fax (210) 354-1920