Investigations and Article 15

Bethany Payton-O’Brien and Paul C. LeBlanc 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 Paul. 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 Paul 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 Paul 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 Paul 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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    Paul C. LeBlanc

    Paul C. LeBlanc

    Paul LeBlanc has over 30 years’ experience in both military and federal practice. Paul retired from the U.S. Navy, JAGC in 2017 with 27 years in uniform. Serving most of his career in the courtroom, Paul represented hundreds of clients in both courts-martial and appellate hearings. As the Commanding Officer of Defense Service Office North (the largest geographic command in the Navy’s JAGC) or as the Director of the Navy-Marine Corps Appellate Defense Division, Paul represented individual clients of all paygrades with outstanding results; he was the only Captain to represent clients in all matters. However, his decades of experience also includes administrative hearings such as admin discharge boards, NJP and NJP appeals, medical privilege boards, detachment for cause (including operationally related DFCs), IG investigations and rebuttals and command and law enforcement investigations (NCIS, CID, Provost Marshal, FBI, DEA, and other federal law enforcement agencies). Paul has over 100 contested courts-martial, hundreds of appellate briefs and arguments, and several hundred administrative hearings and matters.

    After retiring, Paul was appointed as an Assistant United States Attorney in Central District of California in both the Criminal and National Security Divisions. He is extremely knowledgeable about federal criminal law and its interplay with the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Quite often the federal government will assist military prosecutors during an investigation and Paul’s experience is paramount to drive the best results for a client. The rules in federal and military courts are vastly different and knowing the intricacies of both are vital to your success.

    Paul is qualified and certified to practice in all military and federal courts, military courts of appeals, as well as the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. He is also admitted to the 9th, 1st, and 3rd Circuit Courts of Appeals.

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    Bethany L. Payton-O’Brien

    Bethany L.

    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.