Practice Areas

Military Defense Lawyer for Service Members in the U.S. and Beyond

Based in Alexandria, Virginia, military defense attorney Philip D. Cave represents service members in the U.S. armed forces who are being investigated for or charged with violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He can protect their rights during investigation and discovery, as well as in court-martials, adverse administrative actions, appeals, AWOL cases, discharge upgrades, security clearances, cases involving espionage accusations, and cases involving political activity by members of the military. Mr. Cave is an experienced court-martial attorney who represents people throughout the United States and internationally.

Representation during Investigation and Discovery

It is important to obtain experienced and knowledgeable counsel if you have been accused of a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Article 32 provides for an "investigation," which is similar to a pretrial hearing in state or federal civil court. The goal of the hearing is to decide whether a crime was committed and whether there is reasonable cause to believe that the person accused committed the crime. At the hearing, there will be a limited amount of defense discovery under Article 32 and a recommendation about the disposition of the case.


Philip D. Cave has represented many people in court-martials, which are criminal trials for military service members accused of committing crimes described in the Punitive Articles section of the UCMJ. These crimes include sexual assaults and rape, computer crimes, manslaughter, larceny, arson, drunk on duty, desertion, mutiny, and insubordination.

For example, under 10 U.S.C. section 891:Art.91, a warrant officer or enlisted member who strikes or assaults a warrant officer, noncommissioned officer, or petty officer while the officer is executing his duties in office shall be punished as directed in a court-martial. A guilty finding for any UCMJ violation may result in harsh punishments, including reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay, and confinement.

Adverse Administrative Actions

Not all violations of the UCMJ call for a court-martial. However, adverse administrative actions may result in harm to your reputation and career prospects, and they should be defended vigorously by counsel. Adverse actions include nonjudicial punishment, adverse officer evaluation reports or performance reviews, denial or revocation of promotion, reduction of position, and letters of reprimand.

Non-judicial punishment includes Article 15. The purpose of Article 15 is to discipline service members for infractions such as providing false information, engaging in petty theft, or disobeying standing orders. Before non-judicial punishment is imposed, the accused is entitled to notification that non-judicial punishment is being considered, a description of the offense for which it would be imposed, a summary of the relevant evidence, notice that the accused may exercise the right to refuse imposition of punishment, and notice of the rights that the accused has if non-judicial punishment is accepted.


A conviction in military court may have devastating consequences for a service member. You are entitled to appeal an adverse ruling under the UCMJ, but it is crucial to retain an experienced attorney who can recognize appropriate grounds for appeal. Some errors that may be appealed include factual errors, errors in gathering evidence, abuses of authority, and procedural violations.

AWOL Cases (Desertion)

The military takes a failure to report for duty very seriously. Often, it is recommended that military service members who go AWOL receive an other-than-honorable discharge or a harsher penalty. For example, the case of United States v. Bergdahl involves a service member suspected and convicted of desertion. In order to prove desertion under the UCMJ, the prosecutor must prove the elements of desertion beyond a reasonable doubt. One of several scenarios that may result in a desertion conviction include when a prosecutor proves that a service member remained absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty, intending to remain away permanently. Someone found guilty of desertion or an attempt to desert during wartime may be punished as determined by a court-martial.

Discharge Upgrades

The type of discharge that you receive when you conclude your military service may affect not only your severance pay and benefits but also your future career prospects. Under some circumstances, you may apply for a discharge upgrade through a Discharge Review Board. Discharge Review Boards can change the reason for a discharge or upgrade general charges, except for other-than-honorable discharges and special court-martial bad conduct charges. You have 15 years from the date of a discharge to apply for the upgrade.

Discuss Your Case with a Military Defense Attorney

Philip D. Cave represents military personnel nationwide, including in San Diego, Norfolk, Fort Bragg, Fort Hood, San Antonio, and other bases in states such as California, Virginia, North Carolina, and Texas. He also has represented military personnel who need an adverse action attorney or another form of representation overseas, such as in Italy, Germany, Spain, England, Korea, and Japan. Call us at (800) 401-1583 or contact us through our online form for a free consultation with a military defense lawyer.