What happens when a soldier is arrested?
For most of us who are not in the military, military operations are shrouded in secrecy. Since the military is such an important facet of American life, it seems worthwhile to try to explore the armed services more thoroughly and shed some light on them for those who are otherwise removed from that kind of life.
To make a beginning, in this post. I would like to open with this interesting question: what happens if a service member is arrested by the police?
Most people know there’s such a think as MPs, or military police, and what happens if it isn’t the MPs who arrest a soldier but the normal, everyday police?
The simple answer is, at least to some extent, the same things happen to a soldier (or sailor or marine, etc.) that happen to the rest of us. They spend the night in jail, and they get charged.
Let’s say a soldier drinks too much and gets in a fight and then tries to drive off drunk. When the police catch him, he can be charged with the same crimes as anybody else, namely assault, fleeing the scene of a crime, driving while intoxicated, etc.
What makes the case of this soldier different is what happens next. Either the soldier himself or the police contacts the military barracks the soldier is assigned to. Then, the soldier’s superior officer decides what to do with him. It may be they simply ask the soldier be released and allowed to return to the barracks on his own. Or, they may ask the police to hold the soldier until MPs are able to come and get him. This may take a day or two.
Once back at the barracks, the soldier is still charged in the civilian courts. He is still expected to show up for court dates, and he will still have to face the same punishments the rest of us do. If he would like, he can get a lawyer, ideally one that has a specialization in military matters.
His troubles do not end there, however, because our soldier will also have to face disciplinary action from the military. This can include any number of punishments depending on the nature of the crime and whether the crime was a first time or repeat offense. Punishments can include being discharged.
Our soldier in the story, then, may have to pay fines or do community service for his crimes, thanks to the civil court. He would then also have to comply with whatever the military decided was a worthy punishment.
As can be seen by this story, soldiers do not have any get out of jail free cards. If anything, they have a much more difficult burden should they be caught breaking the law.
And while the military does punish soldiers for breaking the law, they defer to the civil courts for the primary judgment and means of punishment.
Thank you for reading, and please, check back in to read more next time.