Are There Any Military Jobs in Criminal Justice?

lawIn very real ways, the military can be thought of as a microcosm of civilian society. Not only are its troops–the best as well as the worst–taken from society, but its structure can be seen as a society in and of itself. The military’s version may go by different terms (commissary vs a grocery store, BX/PX vs a general goods store), but they are much the same. The same applies to the criminal justice system, with virtually every justice function in the civilian world covered by a military counterpart.

Cops on the Beat

Every military installation has a “police force” standing ready to protect its own. Most often called a “Security Detachment,” it is headed by a “Police Chief” who is called the “Security Chief” or the “Provost Marshall.” Under him, functioning as his police force, are “MPs” (Military Police), who perform many of the same functions as police, including performing patrols of the installation, investigations into possible criminal activity, and protecting people and facilities.

It is important to note that although the police powers of the military security force are greatly limited when they leave the installation, there can be some cross-over to the surrounding communities when there are problems that one or the other is unable to adequately manage, one often providing people and/or technical capabilities to the other when they are needed.

Higher Up the Ladder

Once issues begin their climb up the chain of command, the military has its equivalent system of justice. Lawyers are used to handle justice matters in military courts as well as administrative functions. Lawyers in the military are referred to as “Judge Advocates” and belong to their own administrative group called the “Judge Advocate General Staff,” commonly called “JAGs.”

The responsibility of trying cases and hearing other judicial matters falls to a Judge, the head of the installation’s JAG Corps. These are normally higher-ranking officers who have had experience as judge advocates.

Civies in the Court

Although a large number of the lawyers, judges, and other legal personnel are members of the military, there are also a considerable number of those working in the military justice system who are civilians. These personnel normally function much like others of their professional types, depending on the needs of the military.

Civilian attorneys are also called upon frequently to defend military clients if a military member is accused of a crime. This often happens when a military member elects to have a civilian attorney in lieu of the military attorney who is appointed to represent him just as a civilian is entitled to an attorney in the civilian justice system.

Civilian attorneys and other specialists in the military justice system are often employed because they have specialized expertise that they bring to their jobs and that are needed by the military justice community.

Military Justice

Anyone entertaining the idea of working in the military justice system should be aware that there are many options available. Whether a person decides to actually join the military is dependent on the needs of the particular service. Even certain roles, such as attorneys, can be entered as a civilian.