Saturday, June 17, 2017

Accused UK military personnel charged for legal representation

In the United States, military personnel accused of offenses are entitled to free lawyer counsel to represent them at courts-martial. This is so regardless of the accused's ability to pay (in contrast to civilian courts, where only those who are indigent have a right to free defense counsel).

In the UK, accused military personnel are afforded legal representation but must agree to pay a fee. According to this Daily Mail report, 
Soldiers face being found guilty for crimes they did not commit because they cannot afford to represent themselves in court after facing baseless claims, lawyers claimed yesterday. 
Military personnel of all ranks are being told by the Ministry of Defence they must pick up a bill of up to £9,000 to have a barrister defend them. 
Many of them cannot afford to make the increasing contributions and are turning up at court martials [sic] facing ‘excessive and unsupported’ claims with no legal advice, it is claimed.
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Soldiers facing court martials [sic] for a variety of offences are typically told they have to make a contribution to the Armed Forces Criminal Legal Aid Authority (AFCLLAA). 
The amount they have to pay is means tested – but lawyers claim soldiers on small incomes are still being forced to pay staggering costs. 
In one case, a major serving overseas faced an allegation of ill-treatment of a subordinate after an alleged scuffle with a soldier who was on his iPhone. 
The member of his Company had been on the phone during a live fire training exercise. 
The major reprimanded him, removed his iPhone and told him his conduct was dangerous and wholly unacceptable behaviour.  
It was alleged, although disputed, that the major grabbed the clothing of the soldier and struck him. 
The major was told he had to pay £6,750 by way of contribution before he could receive legal aid, which he could not afford.
In some cases, The Military Mutual is stepping in to provide defense counsel. 

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