Trial Defense Service
The Trial Defense Service provides conflict-free legal services to soldiers who are facing adverse criminal or administrative actions at no cost to the soldier. Unlike public defenders in civilian jurisdictions, there is no means test required to determine eligibility; all soldiers are entitled to TDS representation by virtue of being subject to the UCMJ. The various categories of representation fall into three priorities.
- Priority 1: Criminal representation at trials by court-martial is the top priority of TDS and takes precedence over all other actions. TDS counsel make motions, voir dire the panel, offer evidence, examine and cross-examine witnesses, present argument, and negotiate on their client's behalf.
- Priority 2: Assistance with administrative separations (actions to discharge soldiers prior to the end of their service), nonjudicial punishment, and summary courts-martial.
- Priority 3: All other actions, including advising soldiers of their rights as a suspect and responding to letters of reprimand. Priority 3 actions may also be handled by legal assistance attorneys, depending on the availability of TDS.
Information packets: It is required that you bring the respective information packet to your scheduled appointment.
Courts-Martial: Courts Martial Packet, including the Preferred Charge Sheet.
Article 15: Article 15 Packet (DA Form 2627) and all supporting documentation.
Administrative Elimination Counseling: Article 15 packet (DA Form 2627) and all supporting documentation.
Article 31 Rights: Soldiers suspected of offenses should be counseled on their right against self-incrimination. Article 31 rights subject advice counseling will be conducted five days a week.
Escorts: All Soldiers should have an escort of a rank higher than the Soldier being counseled. The purpose of the escort is to safeguard the packets and to ensure the proper conduct of the Soldier during the counseling period. Escorts should not drop off their Soldiers and leave them without transportation.
It is not the responsibility of the Senior Defense Counsel, Trial Defense Counsel, or TDS office personnel to maintain watch or accountability of ANY Soldier requiring our services. After the briefing, the escorts will be responsible for the Soldier and their packets.
Arrive on time: Soldiers arriving after the Article 15 briefing has started or without the proper documentation will be told to return to their units and to return on the next scheduled counseling date. The Senior Defense Counsel or the NCOIC of TDS must approve exceptions to the scheduled time.