Bilecki & Tipon Frequently Asked Questions

Find Answers to Some of The Most Common Questions Here

Q: Are experienced military defense attorneys affordable?

A: Absolutely, especially when you consider what’s at stake

When you’re hiring a court martial attorney to defend you in court, your first question shouldn’t be “how much will my attorney cost?” but rather “how much do I stand to lose?”

A discount attorney may cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars less than the absolute best court martial defense attorney that money can buy. However, if your case involves a possible jail sentence, heavy fines, or massive missed-opportunity costs (such as fewer job opportunities due to your registration as a sex offender) then you may stand to lose a LOT more in the long run by hiring a discount attorney. These attorneys simply cannot fight the charges against you like an experienced attorney can, which is something to keep in mind while shopping around.

Q: I committed the crime, but I still want to plead not guilty. Can you help me?

A: Yes we can, it’s what we do.

We aren’t here to judge you and we certainly aren’t here to tell you to plead guilty. If a not guilty verdict is something you’d like to pursue in court, than you’ve come to the right place.

Trials aren’t defined in terms of right and wrong, black and white, and guilty and not guilty. Nor are they looked upon as “fact finding” missions with the sole purpose of enacting justice. What a court martial is about is advocacy. If you committed a crime, and you’re taken to court by the prosecution, it’s up to them to prove your guiltiness. If they move too soon, without the necessary evidence to back up their claims, and you end up going free, then it’s the prosecution that messed up—not you.

We don’t lose any sleep at night when our clients “beat the rap,” and you shouldn’t either.

Q: When’s the best time to call a lawyer?

A: The minute you realize you’re being investigated for a crime.

We understand you may be hesitant to contact a lawyer. You may tell yourself that it really isn’t happening and that they have no proof. The cold hard truth is that this really IS happening. Their evidence list could be growing by the hour. And if you want to make sure that the prosecution’s case runs dry as quickly as possible, then you call a lawyer within the first 24 hours of finding out you’re being investigated for a crime.

The law firm of Bilecki & Tipon is here to answer any questions you may have about the process. And remember, do NOT talk to law enforcement or assist them in any way. They aren’t there to be your friends. They’re there to convict you of a crime.

Q: How bad are the free attorneys that the military details to accused service members? Give me your honest opinion!

A: Honestly, they can be as bad as it gets.

Listen, sometimes “free” is good. But it’s NOT good when you’re being tried in court martial for a serious crime. The defense counsel you receive doesn’t have any skin the game. They’re often friends with the prosecution’s lawyers. And what’s worse, they likely have minimal experience in court. Would you want a lawyer that has tried over a hundred cases as lead defense counsel, or one that has tried two or three (and plead their client guilty in all of them)?

You need to take a serious look at what’s at stake with the trial’s outcome. If you can picture yourself being found guilty and still having the lifestyle you have now, then a detailed defense counsel may not be a terrible idea. If, however, you face jail time, dishonorable discharge, or forced entry into a sex offender database, then your best and last hope is a civilian defense counsel that knows exactly how to win your case.

Q: Have all civilian military attorneys served in the armed forces?

A: No.

Being a court martial lawyer doesn’t require you to serve in the military or be active in the JAG Corps. As long as you’ve graduated from law school and are admitted practice law in the highest court of any state, you can start marketing yourself as a court martial attorney the next day.

If this doesn’t frighten you, it should. Many of the civilian attorneys available to service members today don’t understand the current legal culture in the military; nor do they have a clue as to what to really expect at a court martial. Some of these attorneys have tried less than half-a-dozen military cases and still claim to be experts in their field. Do yourself a favor and vet these attorneys before hiring any one of them. Make sure to ask how many cases they’ve tried as a lead defense counsel. If it’s fewer than 50 then they likely aren’t as experienced as they claim.

Q: Are former prosecutors worth hiring as my defense counsel?

A: They can be effective, but we lean toward “no.”

We’ve seen former prosecutors make the switch to defense counsels in the past, and the results have been hit or miss. For one thing, prosecutors in the military get everything handed to them. They have infinite resources on hand, plenty of staffers to do their bidding, and an entire law enforcement branch that can identify evidence for them. This sounds like a dream come true for any defense lawyer, but in reality it creates a mentality of laziness that doesn’t sit well on the other side of the aisle.

Defense counsels receive none of the above perks. On top of that, they have to fight off the defense credibility deficit that’s present in every court case. The end result being that those attorneys that elect to defend clients at the start will develop better habits than the prosecutors-turned-defense-attorneys, who have had it easy for most of their career.

Q: Are retired Military Judges, Colonels or Navy Captains worth looking into?

A: Not unless they’ve defended service members for a long time

It sounds like a good idea initially. You hire a former Military Judge, Colonel or Navy Captain to defend you in court, expecting them to bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and a service member can be fooled by someone that’s really only dabbling in the military’s legal domain for some extra money to supplement their military retirement.

Look at it this way. Most prosecutors and defense attorneys in the JAG Corps only operate in the courtroom for a few years, after which they pick up a desk job that carries them to retirement. When they do retire, they decide to take another stab at the courtroom. Only now they’re extremely rusty and countless years have passed since they defended anybody. They’re forced to learn on the fly, and you’re their guinea pig.

Q: Will cooperating with law enforcement help me get out from under my charges?

A: Not even a little bit. Speak with a lawyer as soon as possible!

Law enforcement isn’t there to make your life easier. And they most certainly aren’t there to be your friend. These expertly trained interrogators will say anything to get you to confess or start talking to them about the crime, and then they’ll use your words against you in court.

Even if they claim that you’ll be out in no time once you provide some information, or they tell you that they simply need you to verify a few facts for them or take a polygraph test, it all leads to the same outcome. Once you say something even remotely contradictory, the noose will tighten and your lawyer will have a MUCH more difficult time getting you off the hook.

We’ve seen instances where law enforcement will CONTINUE to use interrogation tactics after you’ve requested to speak with a lawyer. They’ll claim that a lawyer will make you look guilty, or they’ll trick you into a confession by having the “victim” or even a friend call you over the phone and ask questions.

Even the smallest comments can cause irreparable harm to your case in court. The second you realize you’re being investigated, contact a legal representative right away.

Q: I was told that not providing a statement will make me look guilty. Is this true?

A: They thought you were guilty the minute you walked through the door.

If you’re being interrogated, law enforcement already has you in its sights as a lead suspect. Nothing you can do can change this. Providing alibis, cooperating fully, taking polygraph tests, it will ALL be used to further incriminate you. Your right to innocence before guilt is proven doesn’t work here. You’ll be guilty of your alleged crimes until proven otherwise by a defense attorney in court. Speak only to your lawyer and if you have any other questions, we’ll be happy to answer them.

Q: I confessed to my crime. Do I even have a chance of a not guilty verdict now?

A: Yes, but it won’t be easy.

A confession won’t make or break your case in court. But it can be a major nuisance which much be dealt with aggressively and with the might of a high-octane legal defense team. You don’t win confession cases with discount attorneys. You win them with highly prepared, experienced court martial lawyers that have looked at every angle of your confession in an attempt to undermine its merit in court. Again, your case can still be won. But you’ll have to be ready for a fight.

Q: I don’t remember being read my rights. Can we use this against the prosecution?

A: Yes and no.

While we can’t automatically claim victory in court by proving that law enforcement never read you your rights, what we CAN do is attempt to suppress any statement you made while in their custody. So in a case where a confession was made, your defense team could have that scrubbed from the record entirely and never see the light of day in court.

Q: I don’t want to look guilty in front of law enforcement. Should I give them permission to search my belongings and person?

A: Never

Under the Constitution’s 4th Amendment, you have the right to say no to unreasonable searches and seizures. Should law enforcement decide to search your belongings anyway, and discover evidence that could incriminate you in court, that evidence cannot be used. Even if you have nothing to hide and are completely innocent, there’s still a chance that law enforcement could actually “misplace” exculpatory evidence, use seemingly innocuous evidence against you, or even plant evidence that could convict you.

Do not believe that they’re above these kinds of actions. We’ve exposed all sorts of disturbing law enforcement tactics in court. As we’ve said before, these individuals are not on your side.

Lastly, read everything that law enforcement asks you to sign. Accidentally signing away your consent rights has occurred before and even if you didn’t know about it, a court will likely rule in the prosecution’s favor and all evidence found can and will be used against you.

Q: What is the average length of a military investigation?

A: Two months to a year or more

Your case could be settled in a matter of months or it could take a year or more. It all comes down to how the evidence pans out for law enforcement, how easy it is to find witnesses, and how you performed during your interrogation. Meanwhile, having your lawyer on retainer is an absolute must. You can expect that when the government does charge you, they’ll want to use that element of surprise against your defense team. Keeping your defense counsel on retainer ensures that this doesn’t happen.

Patience is critical here. The good news is that the longer it takes for the government to prepare their evidence, the more likely it is that your case will never make it to court.

Q: Is it possible for me to outsmart the military’s law enforcement branches?

A: Don’t even think about it.

CID, NCIS, and OSI may have a one-track mind when it comes to convicting you, but they aren’t fools. They have some of the best investigative training in the world and their tactics are designed specifically to get you to trust them and start talking.

You can’t outsmart the military’s law enforcement. Your only option is to protect yourself with an aggressive legal defense team that knows how to play ball. Don’t fall for their bait—contact Bilecki & Tipon as soon as you’re being investigated for a crime.

Q: I was told that my DNA was found at the crime scene and it will be used against me. Am I in trouble?

A: Not necessarily. Your odds dramatically increase with strong forensic experts of your own.

Bilecki & Tipon consistently combat DNA evidence by undermining the government’s own experts. In order to do that, we often have to call in forensic experts of our own. We also need a vast amount of knowledge regarding how DNA evidence operates in a courtroom setting. Every case is unique, and not every case will require hiring a forensic expert. It depends on which tests need to be conducted and whether or not our forensic expert needs to take the witness stand.

Q: Is the goal of a court martial to discover the truth?

A: No.

Court martial trials are about advocacy. The prosecution and its law enforcement allies are there to build a case against you. During their investigation they won’t be asking whether or not they’re prosecuting an innocent man or woman, even if the evidence is overwhelmingly in the defense’s favor. That’s because their job is to find a suspect, get them into court, and let the jury decide what to do.

A defense team, on the other hand, is an advocate for the accused perpetrator of a crime. The goal of the defense is to help you secure a not-guilty verdict. It doesn’t matter if you’re guilty or not—you deserve to be represented in court by a capable defense team and have a chance at being found not guilty.

Facts matter in a trial. But they’re used by both sides to tell a story—NOT to discover the truth.

Q: Does “drunk sex” constitute as a crime in the U.S. Military?

A: Not necessarily. But beware allegations of rape if you choose to pursue such activities.

Being charged with sexual assault can happen at any time, with any partner. A case we see a lot of is when two service members have a few drinks and then hit the sack together—consensually. However, days or even weeks later one of those individuals learns that they’re being charged with sexual assault. So even though it’s NOT a crime to have sex with someone while drinking in the military, it can easily lead to a crime if you aren’t careful.

If you’re charged with an alcohol-facilitated sexual assault case, you need to contact a lawyer immediately. These cases are more serious today than ever before. Ignoring these charges or waiting on the military to detail you a defense attorney is the fastest way to land yourself in prison and force you to register as a sex offender.

Q: Is there an influx of civilian defense lawyers claiming they can protect service members at a court martial?

A: Yes there is, and many are doing more harm than good.

We’ve witnessed a huge influx of civilian lawyers that have been trying to make inroads in the military as court martial lawyers. These individuals have probably served in the JAG Corps before but haven’t tried a case in years. Furthermore, they often have minimal experience in actually defending service members in trials.

The reason we mention this is because we don’t want you to make a choice that you’ll regret later on. Many of these attorneys are no better than the defense attorneys you’ll be detailed by the military, and sometimes they’re even worse. Always request the attorney’s case history. Better yet, ask them how many cases they’ve brought to verdict as lead defense counsel.

Q: What makes Bilecki & Tipon different from its competitors?

A: We serve as the last line of defense.

The Bilecki & Tipon team is comprised of fighters that understand what you’re up against. We have experience both inside and outside the military system, and unlike other defense counsels that have tried only 10, 15, or 20 cases, we’ve tried hundreds. When you look at the case history of other defense attorneys, you’ll notice a trend: many of their clients plead guilty. We’ll never make demands of you to plead guilty. We believe in your case and want to see you win in court.

Q: Is a civilian defense counsel a smart idea in a military court martial case?

A: Yes, for a number of reasons

Looking outside the military for help may seem foolish at first. Do civilian defense attorneys even understand the military justice system? Do they know what to expect? The answer to both of these is “yes, they do,” as long as they’ve spent time in the military and focused their legal career on court martial cases from the get go.

Furthermore, a civilian defense counsel does NOT have a commanding officer to report to, something that can be highly advantageous in a court martial case, where pressure is high to act in accordance with what the senior leadership wants. Avoiding that pressure is the main reason why Bilecki & Tipon left the military, because we realized we could do more good for service members outside the system than inside.