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The wrongful use or possession of a controlled substance is a common offense under the UCMJ. Military prosecutors charge this misconduct under UCMJ Article 112a.

Controlled substances include any substance which is included in Schedules I through V established by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (21 U.S.C. 812). Common examples include amphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy/MDMA, heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana, methamphetamine, and opium.

Urinalysis Cases

Most wrongful drug use in the military is detected via the urinalysis program. Jeffrey Meeks is an experienced military lawyer who understands how to litigate urinalysis cases. There are typically three time periods or phases to analyze in every urinalysis case.

The first phase to review is the factual scenario surrounding the alleged ingestion of a drug or controlled substance. Not all drug use is wrongful. The lawful of use of prescription drugs is an obvious example of use that is totally appropriate. But even if there is no prescription or the substance has no lawful use, a controlled substance can also be ingested unknowingly. Unknowing ingestion usually is not wrongful. For example, the ingestion of a substance a person truly thought to be sugar but was actually cocaine would normally not be wrongful. There are many other scenarios where the use of a controlled substance is not knowing or wrongful. An effective military lawyer will carefully review the ingestion phase of your case prior to advising you on your best course of action.

The second phase to review in any urinalysis case is the urine collection effort. Although military urinalysis programs have been around for decades, occasionally military units will still conduct substandard collection efforts that will not survive the scrutiny of detailed analysis by an effective military lawyer. Jeff Meeks will use his comprehensive knowledge of urinalysis programs to carefully review the facts of your individual case to determine if there are grounds to attack the collection effort.

The final phase that military lawyers must carefully examine is the actual testing of the urine sample. Although the military drug testing laboratories are generally good, they involve complex processes run by human beings. Occasionally, mistakes are made. Perhaps that occurred in your case.

Drug Possession

Article 112a use or possession cases may also involve factual scenarios that do not include urinalysis testing. You need an experienced military lawyer to guide you through this type of case as well. Occasionally, controlled substances are found in barracks rooms or vehicles. There are often disputes as to who actually owns the substance in question. Further, in some cases, the searches or inspections that led to the discovery of controlled substances were not lawful or violated a service member's reasonable expectation of privacy. The law can be very technical and complex in this area. Your best course of action is almost always to discuss your case with a qualified military lawyer prior to making any decisions that will impact the rest of your life.

Most simple use or possession cases are now handled via administrative action. Cases may go to nonjudicial punishment or a summary court-martial. All services then process those who wrongfully use or possess drugs for administrative separation via an administrative discharge board. More serious cases will result in a special or general court-martial. For example, possession of a large quantity of a controlled substance will typically result in referral to a special or general court-martial. Drug distribution allegations are also prosecuted under UCMJ Article 112a and also usually result in a special or general court-martial.

If you would like to discuss your drug use or possession case with a skilled military lawyer, Jeff Meeks has years of experience with these types of cases. Call (760) 512-8161 now for your free consultation.

Drug Distribution: UCMJ Article 112a

The wrongful distribution of a controlled substance is a more serious charge under UCMJ Article 112a than simple possession or use. To "distribute" means to deliver the possession to another.

Controlled substances include any substance which is included in Schedules I through V established by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (21 U.S.C. 812). Common examples include amphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy/MDMA, heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana, methamphetamine, and opium.

Even if the distribution is not a "sale," and no money exchanges hands, there can still be a prosecution for distribution under Article 112a. This type of case is often called "social distribution".

Although most simple use or possession cases are now handled via administrative action, most distribution cases are referred to courts-martial. There are various aggravating factors that can make drug distribution cases very serious. Distribution aboard a military base, distributing for profit, or distribution of large quantities of controlled substances can often lead to "felony level" general court-martial prosecutions. Before the convening authority can refer a distribution case to a general court-martial, the command must first conduct an Article 32 Investigation.

Given the serious nature of drug distribution cases, representation by an experienced military lawyer can be even more important for the just resolution of the case than it may be for a simple use or possession case. The stakes are usually higher, and when a client desires settlement, there is often more room to negotiate in distribution cases. In contested drug distribution courts-martial, the witnesses for the government often have significant areas in their past that are ripe for cross-examination. The art of effectively cross-examining witnesses is a skill that usually takes military lawyers years to develop. Consequently, retaining a civilian military lawyer can be a wise decision in a drug distribution court-martial.

If you would like to discuss your drug distribution case with a skilled military lawyer in San Diego, I can help. Call (760) 512-8161 now for your free consultation.

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