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Letters of Reprimand and General Officer Memorandums of Reprimand are mechanisms within the military disciplinary process that can have devastating consequences. In general, GOMORs are used to punish Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, or Marines when there is insufficient evidence to support a full-scale court-martial process.
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What Is a Letter of Reprimand?
A General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand, sometimes referred to simply as a Letter of Reprimand, is a letter given to a Service Member by a Commander in the Service Member's command. The purpose of the letter is to discipline a Service Member for serious misconduct like criminal charges or inappropriate relationships. Once a Reprimand is given to the Service Member, it can be filed on their permanent or local files. If the letter of reprimand is deemed severe enough by a General Officer, it can be added to the permanent file. Any Letter of Reprimand filed permanently carries career-long consequences.
Understanding the Burden of Proof
To impose a Reprimand, a commander must believe by a preponderance of the evidence that an individual violated the law and/or engaged in misconduct. A preponderance of the evidence means that it is more likely than not that the alleged offense was committed.
In civilian court, the general rule for the burden of proof in a criminal case is that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that the judge and jury are certain of the verdict and can make a clear decision regarding sentencing.
However, there are no judges or juries during the Reprimand process, and there may not be a comprehensive investigation or analysis of the evidence. Only the commander reads the documents and determines the likelihood of wrongdoing. This process lends itself to a more cursory decision-making process. Without a hearing, service members can only submit a written before a final decision is made.
Consequences of a Reprimand
Receipt of a formal reprimand can be devastating, personally and professionally. Those with a Reprimand on their permanent record may not be eligible for promotion or some benefits. Additionally, service members with a Reprimand could face additional administrative reviews through the Administrative Separation Process or before the Promotion Boards. The consequences are serious.
Reprimands and Criminal Cases
A Reprimand rebuttal can be used in criminal prosecution. In most cases, a Reprimand on a soldier’s permanent record could be used to indicate a pattern of behavior that may have led them to commit a crime. However, if the soldier plans to plead guilty or the criminal case is already complete, a GOMOR rebuttal may be inconsequential. Open cases are more likely to depict a soldier’s permanent record and response as evidence against their innocence.
There are ways to address a Reprimand on a soldier’s permanent record:
- Submit a rebuttal to the memorandum so that it is either withdrawn or filed locally.
- Filing a request with the General Officer to withdraw the Reprimand
- Submitting a request to the Department of Army Suitability and Evaluation Board (DASEB)
While there are options for redemption, it is important to recognize that these are complex processes that involve different levels of command. Each strategy listed above requires careful and timely documentation, succinct arguments, and evidence. Those served with a GOMOR should contact an attorney immediately.
What To Do If You Have Been Served
Once a Reprimand has been served, the soldier has seven days to draft a formal rebuttal and submit it to the issuing officer. A rebuttal should include a denial, rebuttal, explanation, or mitigating factors that could impact their case. Individuals must also submit an additional document stating that the individual wishes to submit matters for review.
After submitting a rebuttal, service members should contact a qualified legal representative about their case. Service members can request an extension for adequate time to consult with their attorney. During this time, the soldier and their representatives must gather evidence to support their case.
Legal Counselors Serving Service Members Nationwide
If you are facing administrative reprimand, you must respond and fight to have the documents withdrawn or locally filed. Any disciplinary notation in your permanent file will result in a denial of promotion and possible early separation. With the help of Owens & Kurz, LLC, you can pursue the most optimal strategy with the support of our experienced attorneys.
At Owens & Kurz, LLC, we understand that when the military enlists disciplinary measures, there is much at stake, including your reputation and future. Our attorneys are former soldiers and were members of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. With over 40 years of combined experience and a thorough knowledge of military discipline, we can provide timely counsel and support to ensure that your best interests are protected.
At Owens & Kurz, LLC, we are former soldiers and experienced attorneys. Entrust your case to our lawyers and schedule an appointment today.
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