The Marine Corps Defense Services Organization provides zealous, ethical and effective defense counsel services to Marines and Sailors who are facing administrative, non-judicial and judicial actions in order to protect and promote due process, statutory and constitutional rights, thereby ensuring the military justice system is both fair and just.
We are Marines, Judge Advocates and Legal Service Specialists – who are dedicated to defending our fellow Marines and Sailors, by providing them legal counsel in any matter required by statute, regulation, or otherwise authorized. We are zealous advocates for our clients, serving independently of the local chain of command and under the supervision of the Marine Corps Defense Services Organization. We zealously represent each and every client within the guidelines of the law, consistent with our professional ethics, and in accordance with our rules of practice. We selflessly perform our duties with the utmost integrity, motivation and pride, without fear of reprisal or expectation of professional or personal gain. In the same spirit as "Taking Care of Our Own," we are: "Marines Defending Marines."
Defense Counsel: Capt Charles Whitman
Defense Services Chief: Cpl Adam Serrano
-General advice and NJP counseling are offered on Tuesday & Thursday to those who arrive at the LSST between 0730 and 0800 on a first come first serve basis. Walk-in counselings are conducted from 0800-1000. Any exceptions to this rule will be addressed individually by an available defense counsel.
-A military defense attorney cannot:
1) Represent you in a civilian court or provide legal advice for criminal or civil matters.
2) Provide advice to anyone who is not active duty or reserve recalled to active duty.
-Information you give your defense attorney, his or her colleagues, and defense assistants (including clerical staff) to help him or her represent you is legally privileged information. This means that your lawyer cannot and will not reveal things you tell him or her in confidence except to help solve your legal problem. No court can force him or her to reveal information. Even the fact that you sought defense attorney advice and counseling is confidential and neither a lawyer nor you need to disclose that fact.
-The Defense section provides the following legal services and advice:
1) Plan, coordinate, and conduct defense of clients facing special courts-martial, general courts-martial, and administrative discharge proceedings.
2) Provide legal counseling to personnel facing non-judicial punishment, summary courts-martial, request masts, competency review boards, and RCM 305 pretrial confinement (IRO) hearings.
3) Represent clients during Article 32 proceedings.
4) Defend officers facing BOIs and Field Flight Performance Boards.
5) Seek clemency from convening authorities and address errors in post-trial documents.
6) Educate Marines and Sailors on fitness report and NJP rebuttals, BCNR and NDRB petitions, and administrative discharges.
-Counseling advice may consist of, but is not limited to:
1) NJP counseling. Please ensure that statements, documents, evidence that support the proposed NJP, and the proposed Unit Punishment Book entry are ready for the attorney to view at the counseling. Failure to do so may result in the service member having to return to receive more advice on a follow-up visit.
2) Advice regarding administrative separations. Please bring a copy of any paperwork that is relevant.
3) General advice for anyone who is the subject of an investigation or may be the subject of an investigation or criminal proceeding.
4) Advice regarding a Board of Correction of Naval Records (BCNR) proposed correction.
5) Advice when you are facing a Summary Court Martial.
6) Advice when you have or expect to receive an adverse fitness report.
-It is the Miramar defense policy that no legal advice to a prospective defense client may be given over the telephone or through third parties calling on behalf of the prospective client. Certain emergency circumstances, such as when dealing with clients at remote locations will be addressed individually. Service members who are unable to appear at our walk-in hours should call the office for further guidance.
Military Justice System
-Members of the armed forces are governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), a statute enacted by Congress which amounts to the military criminal code. The UCMJ applies to service members' activities whether or not they are on a military installation and whether or not these activities are military related. Military trials are known as courts-martial, with juries made up of military members. Accused military members have the right to an attorney (civilian or military), and court-martial rulings can be appealed to a Court of Criminal Appeals or the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Armed Forces, the military's highest court. For incidents that occur off military property, a civilian or military court may exercise jurisdiction over the offense.
Article 31 Rights
-Article 31 (b) of the UCMJ prohibits compulsory self-incrimination. Specifically, no person acting on behalf of the military may interrogate, or request any statement from a person suspected of an offense without first informing him or her of the nature of the accusation, that he or she has the right to not make a statement, to consult with an attorney, and to stop questioning at any time.
-It is very important to keep in mind that any statement you choose to make can later be used against you, whether or not you directly admit to wrongdoing.
Also, keep in mind that even if you initially agree to answer questions, you have the right to stop the interview at any time. The quickest way to stop an interview is to say that you wish to speak to an attorney.
General Legal Tips
1) Not all military attorneys can have a confidential relationship with a service member. Ask any attorney if you have that confidential relationship with him or her before discussing any potentially criminal matters.
2) Command Legal Officers in the Marine Corps and Navy are not attorneys and work for the Commander, not you—anything you say to them may be used against you.
3) Anything you say to military doctors and psychologists may be used against you.
4) Before disclosing any potentially incriminating information to a military chaplain, ask if you have a confidential relationship with him or her.