Protecting South Carolina Residents Who Fought for Our Country

Military Appellate Defense

Appeal Your Conviction and Sentence

Not everyone gets a fair trial, and not every judge or jury reaches the right result in every case. At The Hanzel Law Firm, we understand this because we have seen it happen, and we have successfully appealed convictions.

If you or a loved one served in the U.S. military and was convicted at a General Court-Martial or a Special Court-Martial, we understand how dispiriting that can be. But you need to know that Article 62 and Article 66 of the UCMJ give you rights to appeal the convictions and sentence, and if something happened in that trial that prejudiced you and/or deprived you of the fairness you are entitled to, you may have grounds to appeal. Even if you or a loved one is currently in a military brig or has been sentenced to a punitive discharge, such as a dishonorable or bad-conduct discharge, you have appellate rights. In fact, sentences carrying a year in jail or higher or a punitive discharge guarantee you of the strongest form of appeal under Article 66, UCMJ, in front of your service’s Court of Criminal Appeals in the Washington DC area.

To learn more, call our military attorneys at (843) 202-4714 today.

Appellate Experience That Can Make a Difference For You

Soldiers and American Flag - Military Appellate Defense in Mt. Pleasant

Attorney Michael Hanzel has substantial experience in military appeals. On active duty, he clerked for judges at the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCA) in Washington DC and served as an appellate defense attorney at the Navy’s Appellate Defense Division, also in Washington DC, where he established a reputation for identifying strong appellate issues and making impressive arguments to appellate judges. All of his clients there were service members who had been convicted at a Court-Martial and sentenced to a year or more in a military prison or a punitive discharge.

What Sets Attorney Michael Hanzel Apart:

  • Attorney Michael Hanzel understands the complexities of the military appeals system and has achieved success for his clients at both NMCCA and the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF).
  • He helped revitalize Article 10 of the UCMJ (speedy trial) through his trial work on U.S. v. Cooley, which ultimately won at both the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals (CGCCA) and CAAF.
  • He was named one of the top military justice stories of the year.
  • He has contributed to CAAFLOG (www.caaflog.com), which military justice practitioners go to for the latest military justice updates,
  • He has advised members of the news media about how the military appellate process works, and
  • He has taught junior trial counsel how to raise appellate issues on the record of trial so that they will have the best chance of being successful on appeal.

He has had clients at many of the major military brigs, including Naval Consolidated Brig Charleston, SC, which is located in the same city as The Hanzel Law Firm, in Charleston, SC, Naval Consolidated Brig Chesapeake, VA, Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar, CA, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, and other facilities for the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps. Having visited these brigs personally, he knows how they operate and how to reach clients there, and he is skilled at reviewing their records of trial to see if they warrant appellate relief. So no matter where in the country, you live, whether or not you or your loved one is incarcerated, we can help.

Whether the issue is unlawful command influence by a senior military official, which recently resulted in NMCCA overturning all convictions for a Marine in a high-profile case (https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/nov/10/james-amos-found-guilty-unlawful-command-influence/) and currently has the Navy JAG in hot water in a Navy SEAL’s sexual assault case on appeal at CAAF (http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/military/sd-me-unlawful-influence-20171024-story.html), whether it is factual or legal sufficiency, ineffective assistance of counsel by your uniformed or civilian attorney, an expert issue, a racially-biased jury, an evidentiary issue, or any other issue, at the Hanzel Law Firm, we will scour your record of trial to identify all appellate issues, we will do the legal research necessary to raise your issues on appeal, and we will argue your case in front of the military’s highest courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary, to fight for justice for you or your loved one.

Don’t fail to fully exercise your appeal rights. Contact our officesto request a free case evaluation today.

Understanding the Process in Mt. Pleasant and Charleston

Following a court-martial conviction, your case will go through post-trial processing before, if warranting an automatic appeal, being sent to your service’s Criminal Court of Appeals. Post-trial processing in cases with where the sentence was a year or more in jail, a punitive discharge, or death, require a Staff Judge Advocate’s Recommendation (SJAR) by the Convening Authority’s JAG, a clemency submission by the trial defense counsel, and the Convening Authority’s Action, a final action in the case in which he or she can under certain circumstances lower punishments or dismiss convictions, but which typically results in approval of all convictions and the sentence.

Sentences that trigger an automatic appeal:

  • Confinement for one year or more
  • Bad Conduct discharge
  • Dishonorable Discharge
  • Dismissal (the equivalent of a Dishonorable Discharge for officers)
  • Death

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If you or a loved one received one of these sentences, the case will then be sent to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals (ACCA), the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCA), the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals (AFCCA) or the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals (CGCCA), depending on your branch of service, and your case will be argued there on appeal.

Partner With An Independent Law Firm You Can Trust

It is important to have a new, independent lawyer review your case on appeal. First, you need a fresh set of eyes on the case. Second, you need an attorney who is not afraid to be critical of your trial defense counsel’s work and the prosecution’s work, and to raise the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC) and/or prosecutorial misconduct if it exists. Attorney Michael Hanzel has never been afraid to raise the issue of IAC or prosecutorial misconduct when he identified it, even while on active duty against other JAGs. That is because he deeply cares about preventing and correcting injustice. At The Hanzel Law Firm, we believe an unfair trial is the worst possible thing that can happen, not just to our clients, but to our justice system.

At The Hanzel Law Firm, we're committed to Fighting to Protect Your Rights, Career & Future. Call us at (843) 202-4714 today.

Whether On or Off Active Duty, We Achieve Results.

Why Put The Hanzel Law Firm On Your Side?
  • Proven Track Record as JAGS & Former Servicemembers

    Throughout our 20-plus years of combined experience in the military justice system, we have achieved outstanding results for our clients, both at court-martial and in administrative boards.

  • We Know the Criminal Justice System Inside & Out

    Our attorneys have seen the best and worst of our justice system. We do what it takes to navigate you through its complexities.

  • We Will Fight For Your Constitutional Rights

    As JAGs, we swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. We protect your rights and fighting for your freedom.

  • Zealous & Ethical Legal Advocacy

    After serving on active duty we have since devoted ourselves to standing up for fellow servicemembers and South Carolina citizens.