U.S. Military Lawyer - The Law Office of Stephen P. Karns

Administrative Separation Boards

If you are facing an involuntary separation from military service, Mr. Karns can represent you and fight to have you retained in the service, or if separated, he can fight to have your unfavorable characterization of service changed. If you are accused of misconduct, or poor duty performance, your command may seek to involuntarily separate you. Typical reasons for being separated include:

  • Criminal conduct under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ);
  • Insubordination;
  • A pattern of misconduct;
  • Drug abuse;
  • A civilian criminal conviction;
  • Weight or health issues; and
  • Poor Duty Performance.

If your command seeks to separate you, it is required to notify you in writing of the basis for the separation and the recommended characterization of service. Your characterization of service is based on your conduct and duty performance while in the military. As an experienced military attorney, Mr. Karns can assist you to present your side of the story, regarding both the alleged misconduct and your entire military record. This evidence, along with any statements in your favor, become part of the package sent to the installation commander for the final decision regarding the separation. However, your commander can decide not to proceed after having received your materials. This is why it is important to have an experienced military attorney help you make your case.

An Administrative Separation Board may be required before you are separated. If you have more than six years of total active military service, or if the basis of your separation is for homosexuality or the recommended characterization of service is Other Than Honorable, you are entitled to have your case heard by an Administrative Separation Board. The Separation Board will consist of three members who will hear Mr. Karns’ argument in your behalf, review any evidence, your testimony, and the testimony of any witnesses you present. Mr. Karns will also be able to question any government witnesses who appear in front of the Board, prior to presenting a closing argument.

For the Board to make a recommendation of separation, it is required to find by a preponderance of the evidence that the allegations of misconduct presented against you are true and that they warrant separation. However, the Board can also recommend the separation be suspended. The final approval of the separation is by the Separation Authority, which may substitute a more favorable characterization of service, suspend the separation, or even retain you. Mr. Karns, as an experienced military attorney, can help you present your best case to the Board, enabling you to challenge the separation and potentially avoid an Other Than Honorable discharge.


Past Cases

Client was a Cryptologic Petty Officer First Class and Senior Analyst in the Navy Reserve with a Top Secret clearance and eleven years of service. Client tested positive for “meth” at a level of 6704 ng and also had a previous DWI conviction. Client hired Attorney Karns to represent him for an Administrative Separation Board Hearing. Although Client could provide no particular explanation regarding how or why he tested positive, Attorney Karns presented an “innocent ingestion” defense to the Board based on the premise that the circumstances of Client’s ingestion need not be known for the ingestion to nevertheless be innocent. Attorney Karns also presented character witnesses in the Client’s behalf, including co-workers and witnesses from Client’s civilian life. The Board found that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that Client knowingly ingested meth. Client was retained in the Navy and will be able to reacquire his civilian job.

Client was an Army Reserve Specialist who tested positive for THC and whose command was administratively separating him with an Other Than Honorable Discharge. Client hired Attorney Karns to attempt to get him the best possible outcome. Attorney Karns was able to obtain Client an Honorable Discharge which saved the character of Client’s career and alleviated his civilian employment concerns moving forward.

Client was an Army Specialist who had earned an ARCOM for his service in Iraq. After returning to garrison, Client suffered a serious injury requiring multiple surgeries over an extended period which limited his ability work in his MOS. The Army found that the injury was not in LOD; however, the VA found that it was. Client also suffered from PTSD and was on a host of medications due to his injury. Client asked for help from his command, but his new company commander simply told him to “suck it up.” Client received relentless counselings from his new commander, and soon thereafter he received three Art. 15s for being late and disrespectful. Further, Client’s command recommended that he be separated administratively for misconduct with an Other Than Honorable Discharge. This would leave Client with no medical benefits to care for or rehabilitate his injury. Client hired Mr. Karns to get his administrative separation for misconduct dropped so his medical separation would be approved. Attorney Karns contacted Client’s command and the legal advisor for the command and was able to halt the separation for his misconduct so that the command could reconsider Client’s medical condition. After some months of negotiation, Attorney Karns was able to not only have the administrative separation with OTH rescinded, but he was able to get the Client medically discharged with an Honorable characterization of service.

Client was an Army MSG with seventeen years when he came under an FBI investigation because sensitive goverment items were found for sale on his wife's eBay account. The FBI searched his home where they found approximately $150K of government property, in addition to the $150K of government property that had already been sold through the eBay account. Client was charged with Larceny of greater than $250K, stealing SAPI plates from his soldiers and False Official Statement. Client hired Mr. Karns regarding his pending court-martial. Client faced over 25 years of confinement, reduction to E-1 and a dishonorable discharge. After the Article 32 hearing, Mr. Karns convinced Client's command to administratively separate Client after Client agreed to pay the government restitution for the unrecovered property, thus achieving Client's goal of avoiding criminal conviction and jail time.

Client was a PO1 who got reduced at Captain’s Mast to PO2 for sexually harassing an E-2 by kissing her on the neck and grabbing her buttocks, as well as bringing alcohol on a military aircraft. Client had 18 years of solid service with no prior allegations of wrong doing. Client hired Mr. Karns to fly to Japan to represent him at his administrative separation board. For testimony, Mr. Karns called Client’s current and former supervisors, as well as a Master Chief who was familiar with Client’s duty performance, all who testified that Client should be retained. Under cross-examination, the complaining witness admitted that Client should be retained. Client was retained by a vote of 3-0 and will be allowed to retire.

Client was an Army Captain who was accused of assaulting his supervisor (O4) by striking him twice with his fist. Prior to hiring Mr. Karns, Client received an Art. 15 and a GOMOR. Subsequently, he was served with a notice to “show cause” for his retention as directed by HRC. Mr. Karns represented Client at his administrative separation board. During the cross-examination of his supervisor, Mr. Karns asked him to demonstrate on him how Client “assaulted” him. Once the demonstration and cross-examination were complete, it became clear that the Client could not have struck his supervisor as the supervisor described and that it was the supervisor who became enraged, threw Client to the ground, and put him in a choke hold. Client was retained by a vote of 3-0.

Client was a SFC and recruiter in the Army with 13 years. While Client was at the Senior Leaders Course, Client received a GOMOR and a Notification of Intent to Relieve due to being aware that other recruiters in his Company and station were guilty of having inappropriate relationships with applicants and failing to report such activity to the chain of command. Client faced removal from recruiting duty due to unsuitability, possible filing of the GOMOR in his permanent records, and reassignment outside the U.S. Army Recruiting Command. Client hired Attorney Karns to rebut the GOMOR and persuade the commanding General to rescind the Intent to Relieve. The commanding General rescinded both actions, and the Client continued his recruiting duty with no adverse action taken or placed in his file.

Client was a SFC and recruiter in the Texas Army National Guard who was just six months from retirement when he tested positive for THC on a urinalysis. Client’s command wanted to administratively separate Client with an Other Than Honorable Discharge. Client hired Mr. Karns who immediately helped Client assemble evidence of his years of proficient service and obtain letters from his colleagues regarding their high of opinion of his integrity, service, and loyalty. Attorney Karns presented this evidence to Client’s command and successfully persuaded them to agree to allow Client to retire with an honorable discharge.

Senior NCO tested positive for marijuana. Mr. Karns convinced the soldier’s command to terminate the administrative separation action and retain the soldier.

A retirement eligible NCO was convicted in a civilian court for child molestation and incest. He was serving time in state prison. The Army demanded that the soldier be administratively separated with an Other Than Honorable Discharge. An OTH Discharge would have reduced the NCO to an E-1 and severely affected his retirement pay. Mr. Karns was able to convince the separation board to grant a General Discharge thus preserving the soldier’s retirement pay at his current rank.



* Past results achieved are not a guarantee of future results. Each case is unique and reference must be made to the specific legal and factual circumstances presented.


Worldwide Availability:

  • Every base, post, camp, or station.
  • All Army installations.
  • All Air Force installations.
  • All Naval installations.
  • All Marine Corps installations.
  • All Coast Guard installations.