Investigations and Article 15

Bethany Payton-O’Brien and Ryan Sears have advised thousands of service members on their rights during criminal and command investigations.  Do not attempt to navigate this process without a lawyer like Beth or Ryan. To do so, could find you charged at court-martial or NJP based on your statements alone.

First and foremost, you have the right to a lawyer during a criminal investigation, including Article 15 (NJP) investigations, and you should never waive your rights to silence or to an attorney.  Do not consent to any searches of your cell phone, your barracks room or your house. Law enforcement agents are not your friends but will try to convince you they are trying to help you with assurances they will advocate on your behalf to the command.  Do not be fooled. The government will expend countless resources in their investigation of you. It is not in their interest to help you.

Beth and Ryan have over 40 years of combined experience in military justice matters and have both previously worked as prosecutor.  They know how the government will put a case together. Do not wait until the case has been put together before contacting an attorney.  Bethany and Ryan have both succeeded in getting allegations of misconduct dismissed before the investigation even started or before charges were brought against the servicemember.  

In the event you are offered Article 15 (NJP), you need to speak with a lawyer before deciding to accept it or demand court-martial.  Beth and Ryan can review the evidence against you, assist you in deciding about NJP, and then assist you in preparing for the hearing and any subsequent appeal.  Given the gravity of this decision, you need a lawyer, because any decision you make can have other serious consequences, like an administrative separation board.   Allow their experience and successes work for you in defending your freedom and future from an unjust result.

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Ryan Sears Headshot

Ryan Sears

The Law Office of Ryan J. Sears, LLC

Ryan J. Sears

Military Defense Lawyer Ryan J. Sears has spent the last sixteen years advocating for those who need it most – those accused of wrongdoing and those who cannot fight for themselves. A graduate of Emory University, Ryan attended Washington University School of Law where he received the Judge Samuel Calhoun Scholarship and captained the school’s NITA mock trial team. While in law school, Ryan commissioned in the U.S. Navy JAG Corps and committed himself to the future service of his country. He subsequently served tours as a senior trial counsel (prosecutor), senior defense counsel for the entire Northeastern United States, trial counsel, and defense counsel. He defended and prosecuted servicemembers in some of the most high-profile cases in the Navy, including matters that received coverage by The Washington Post, Jacksonville Times Union, Navy Times, and Marine Corps Times.

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The Law Office of Ryan J. Sears, LLC is a sole proprietor.

Bethany L. Payton-O’Brien

Bethany L.
Payton-O’Brien

Law Office of Bethany L. Payton-O’Brien

Bethany L. Payton-O’Brien

Military Defense Attorney Bethany Payton-O’Brien is a former military trial and appellate judge. She has been practicing military and criminal law for 25 years. She served in the United States Navy for almost 23 years. Since her retirement from the Navy in 2017, she has been in private practice providing legal representation to military members (active, reservists, ROTC students, and former members), civilian employees, contractors, and retirees. Bethany Payton-O’Brien focuses on on military and security clearance matters, including litigation, criminal law, ROTC disenrollment hearings, and administrative law (NJP, administrative boards, medical privileging boards, letters of reprimand, IG investigation).  She also represents clients before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, the Board of Veterans Appeals, as well as all military review boards and trial courts. Bethany has prosecuted and defended numerous high profile cases, including matters that have received coverage by the San Diego Union Tribune, Military Times, Business Insider, and San Diego CBS News 8. Bethany Payton-O’Brien brings experience, aggressiveness and a commitment to protecting the rights of her clients.

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The Law Office of Bethany L. Payton-O’Brien is a sole proprietor.