What Is an Article 32 Hearing?

Posted by Ernesto Gapasin | Feb 23, 2015 | 0 Comments

If you're facing a general court-martial, the number 32 will have special significance. After all, as general court-martials are reserved for the most serious offenses (crimes that civilians would commonly call felonies), the commander must first determine whether or not the evidence in the case supports the prosecution's claim, and that decision is made through an Article 32 hearing.

So what is an Article 32 hearing? Scroll down to find out . . .

What Is an Article 32 Hearing?

What Is an Article 32 Hearing?

An Article 32 hearing is a pre-trial hearing that occurs before a general court-martial. The name comes from Section VII (“Trial Procedure) and Article 32 of the United States Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). During an Article 32 hearing, the case is thoroughly and impartially investigated to determine if there is enough evidence to support the claim. After the hearing, the investigating officer can either recommend a court-martial or a dismissal of the case.


When it is determined that a serious crime accusation may warrant a general court-martial, an investigation begins. An investigating officer is appointed by the commander directing the investigation, and an investigating hearing is scheduled.

The hearing will be attended by the investigating officer, the accused, and the defense counsel, amongst others. At the hearing, the investigating officer will review the evidence and examine the witnesses. Testimony is given under oath or affirmation, although the accused can make an unsworn statement if they choose. The defense cross-examines the witnesses and presents evidence as well.

When the hearing is over, the investigating officer will submit a report of the investigation to the commander administering the investigation. This report will sum up the hearing, but it will also include the recommendations of the investigation officer regarding whether the case should go to court-martial or be dismissed. After reviewing this report, the commander will make the final decision.


To prepare for an Article 32 hearing, the accused must seek out a qualified and experienced defense attorney. They should also learn about their rights, including the following:

  • The accused has the right to waive the hearing if they prefer.
  • The accused has the right to be present throughout the investigative hearing.
  • The accused has the right to be represented by an appointed military defense counsel, to request an individual military defense counsel by name, or to hire a civilian attorney.
  • The accused (through their attorney) has the right to call witnesses, present evidence, and cross-examine witnesses. They can also ask the investigating officer to invite relevant civilian witnesses and military witnesses.
  • The accused can testify, but they will not be forced to do so.

In addition, it's important to note that the accused must be given a copy of the report prepared by the investigating officer and the accompanying evidence. After reading the report, the accused has a limited amount of time to submit comments or objections to the commander directing the investigation.

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So what is an Article 32 hearing? It is an important piece of the puzzle when you're involved in a general court-martial. To learn more about your rights and to thoroughly prepare for the hearing, be sure to consult an experienced attorney.

If you're looking for a top-quality military lawyer, contact Newsom & Gapasin. Whether you're under investigation or facing a court-martial, our experienced and aggressive law firm would be happy to help. We focus on winning tough cases, some of which have been reported on by national media outlets like CNN, Fox News, Time, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. For more information, please give us a call at 1-(888) 919-8265 , send an e-mail to [email protected], or click here to contact us online. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Ernesto Gapasin



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