Defending Those Who Defend Us®

Article 32 Hearings

Before a Commanding Officer/General can refer charges to a general court-martial, a thorough and impartial investigation into the basis for the charges must be conducted. This inquiry is called an Article 32 hearing, and it has three main purposes:

  1. to inquire into the legal sufficiency set forth in the charges;
  2. to consider the form of the charges; and
  3. to consider which forum is appropriate to handle the pending disciplinary action.

Beyond the stated purpose of the UCMJ Article 32 hearing, it also offers the accused a powerful discovery tool into the government’s case and provides defense counsel access to investigation files, as well as an opportunity to cross-examine important government witnesses, such as the alleged victim(s) or investigators.

Upon conclusion of the Article 32 hearing, the investigating officer drafts a report for the Commanding Officer/General who ordered the investigation. The Article 32 report is advisory in nature; accordingly, the Commanding General may favorably endorse the investigating officer’s opinion as to disposition, or reject the advisory opinion and refer charges at his own discretion.

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