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 preliminary hearings 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 (if advantageous for our clients) 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 preliminary hearings for both officer and enlisted accused where the preliminary hearing 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, is not legal advice, and does not establish an attorney client relationship. To get information specifically tailored to your case, please contact the attorneys at the firm of Gross & Esparza, P.L.L.C.
The Different Kinds of Court-Martial
Summary Court-Martial (SCM). Trial by SCM is a simplified procedure to resolve minor offenses or incidents of misconduct. The presiding officer is one officer who is typically a Judge Advocate (military lawyer). The max punishment from a SCM is less than a special or general court-martial, with confinement up to 1 month, hard labor without confinement up to 45 days, restriction up to 2 months, and 2/3 forfeiture of pay for 1 month. An accused individual must consent to be tried by SCM and cannot be tried by SCM if the Accused objects, even if the Accused previously refused a prior Article 15 and demanded trial by court-martial for the same offenses.
Special Court-Martial (SPCM). This is an intermediate level court-martial and can be a bench trial (Judge Alone) or a jury trial (a four member panel of military personnel), with both military prosecutors and defense counsel. The Accused can elect to be tried by members, i.e., jury. The convening authority may order that only a military judge hear the case and determine the Accused's guilt or innocence and possible punishment. Punishment at SPCM is dictated by the SPCM itself if a member SPCM. Confinement is limited to no more than 12 months (or a lesser amount if a lesser max exists) , forfeiture of pay, a bad conduct discharge (BCD) and reduction in rank for enlisted accused, and certain lesser punishments. A sentence from a Judge Alone SPCM is no more than 6 months confinement (or a lesser amount if a lesser max exists), forfeiture of pay for 6 months, and reduction in rank for enlisted accused. An officer accused in a SPCM cannot be dismissed from service, be confined, or be reduced in rank.
General Court-Martial (GCM). A GCM is the most serious military court-martial under the law. In a GCM, there is a military judge, prosecutors and defense counsel, and a jury panel of six to eight members who will adjudge the case. Unless the case is a capital case (where the death penalty could be adjudged), an officer or enlisted personnel can request trial by military judge alone. In a GCM, the punishment ranges are those punishments as contained in the UCMJ statutes themselves for the charged offenses. Punishment can consist of a dishonorable discharge (DD) or BCD, reduction in rank for enlisted personnel, dismissal for officers, or any number of other punishments to include confinement in a military prison facility. A preliminary hearing under Article 32, UCMJ, must be conducted before a case may be referred to general court-martial, unless waived by the Accused.
Mr. Esparza and Mr. Gross have both won numerous courts-martial and saved many military careers during their combined 50+ years of practice. Our military practice is all services and is world-wide. We go where the case is and aggressively defend our client's rights. Let us put our experience to work for you!
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