Special UCMJ Rules Apply for Military Drug Charges

On behalf of Law Offices of David P. Sheldon posted in UCMJ on Tuesday, November 22, 2016.

Military members are held to a different standard when it comes to possessing and using illegal drugs. While there are many drugs that are illegal for civilians to possess or distribute, it is not necessarily illegal in many states for civilians to be found with those drugs in their bodies. Military members, however, can face drug charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or UCMJ, for testing positive for any type of drug that alters mind, mood, body or ability to function.

If you are a member of the military facing a drug-related charge, it's important to get the legal help that you need in order to secure the best results possible in your case. Working with a civilian defense attorney who is an expert in the UCMJ and specializes in criminal defense for military personnel is the best option. This legal professional can provide you with additional information about the rules and regulations within the UCMJ for military drug charges.

The UCMJ Considers Drug Use Illegal When Drugs are Present and the Individual is Knowing and Conscious of the Presence of Drugs

A positive drug test may feel like a damning piece of criminal evidence, but it's important to note that a positive drug test alone does not prove that the individual is aware of the drugs that are in their system. In fact, there can be traces of popular drugs, such as cocaine or marijuana, on surfaces, food and in other places where it can unknowingly creep into a person's system. The likelihood of unconsciously coming into contact with illegal drugs or substances increases when the individual is at a nightclub or a bar, as this is a popular place for illegal drug use. Contaminated beverages or surfaces can lead to mistaken contact with drugs. For members of the military, the risks of being convicted of a drug charge are great, so it's important to choose your friends and your extracurricular activities wisely.

The Military is Increasingly Expanding the Number and Types of Drugs Being Tested

Prescription drugs that are prescribed to an individual in the military are not illegal, but there are many military drug tests that test for the presence of prescription drugs. These drug tests are being used more widely throughout the military, as prescription drug abuse increases in prevalence throughout society as a whole. In addition, these drugs tests are constantly being expanded in order to include new street drugs that seem to be developed on a near-constant basis. This can include bath salts, spice and more. Military drug labs are highly informed and intelligent, so it's critical that members of the military do not just assume that a particular substance would not be tested for on the average drug test.

Military Jury Members Can Convict on a Positive Drug Test but They are Not Required to Convict on this Fact Alone

If a case goes before a military jury, the members are told in advance that a positive drug test is an indicator that the individual knew that they were consuming drugs and that they are aware of the presence of drugs in the body. However, the military jury is not required to convict based on a positive drug test result. Military personnel members who are facing criminal drug charges should note that many military jury members desire more information about the case in order to decide if the person in question was truly aware that they were consuming or using drugs. Military jury members also are often curious if there is a specific reasoning behind a positive drug test, such as a prescription from a doctor or another valid reason for having traces of drugs in the system. A solid legal advisor can improve your chances of being acquitted by a military jury.

The most important thing to note about any type of military drug charge is that each case should be evaluated and analyzed on an individual basis. Many military members automatically assume that their best legal defense is to plead guilty, but that is not always the best option. By partnering with a qualified attorney who specializes in criminal defense charges against military personnel, you will be able to create a plan of action that is best for your particular circumstances.

If you or someone that you love in the military has a drug problem or is facing criminal drug charges, it's critical that you get the help that you need. Beyond help from medical professionals and licensed therapists, you also need to secure a legal professional who understands the unique nature of military drug charges. A civilian criminal defense attorney who specializes in criminal drug charges against military personnel can advocate for you and work toward the results that you need during this trying time.