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Understanding Article 32 Hearings

Written by: Federal Practice Group
Written by: Federal Practice Group

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Guest Blog

When allegations come against a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, the defendant is required to attend an Article 32 hearing. This hearing serves as a way to determine if there is sufficient evidence to take the case to a court-martial.

Although similar to the grand jury process, an Article 32 hearing has several key differences that play a significant role in the outcome of each case. The following information can help prepare you for your Article 32 hearing and give you a better idea of what to expect.


The investigative officer is the individual appointed to supervise the investigation into the defendant's charges. Whether or not the officer has any legal background is not a concern, as they are given the ability to confer with an impartial outside source, such as an attorney.

At the hearing, it is the investigative officer's job to review the non-testimonial evidence and conduct witness examinations. The hearing begins with the officer reading the accused their charges. Next, the officer reviews the evidence, examines both sides of the witnesses, and calls for statements from the defendant.

The investigative officer is also responsible for creating a written report of the Article 32 hearing to the commander. This report is crucial, as it helps the commanding officer form an opinion about whether or not the case will move to a court-martial.


The rights of the defendant are one of the most telling differences between an Article 32 hearing and the grand jury process. At an Article 32 hearing, the defendant generally has more rights than one would at a grand jury trial. So what are these rights?

The defendant is permitted to do all of the following:

  • Be present at the investigation
  • Be represented by an attorney
  • Present evidence
  • Review the investigative report

Because the defendant has the ability to be so involved in an Article 32 hearing, there is much value in being both prepared and well-represented at your hearing. The Federal Practice Group is staffed with skilled military criminal defense attorneys that offer worldwide legal assistance.

For more information on how we may be able to represent you at your Article 32 hearing, contact our firm today and schedule a confidential case evaluation!

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