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

Assault/Domestic Violence

A charge of assault or domestic violence can be a very serious matter because of the far reaching consequences that a conviction may entail. It is the type of offense for which the accused is often prejudged to be guilty, regardless of the evidence. Just being accused of domestic violence can have an adverse career impact, even if you are falsely accused. If an allegation of assault or domestic violence is made against you, it must be aggressively defended in order to avoid the many harsh consequences a conviction may bring, such as the following:

  • Possible jail time;
  • Being subject to a Protective or Restraining Order;
  • Losing your right and ability to own or carry a firearm;
  • Losing the custody of your children;
  • Having a lifelong criminal record; and
  • Losing your career.

It is particularly important for service members to avoid a conviction of this type. If you are a service member facing an allegation of assault or domestic violence, Mr. Karns can defend you. Many of these cases are based on circumstantial evidence—they are the result of a “he said, she said” situation, one in which the government has relied solely upon the statement given by an accuser to charge you with the offense. Often alcohol is involved and events are distorted or exaggerated. The accuser may have ulterior motives for making the accusation. Because it is a crime of violence, the accused is often perceived as guilty prior to any due process or opportunity to present his side of the case.

In addition, the government often relies on witnesses who may have personal biases against the accused, or whose credibility is otherwise tainted. Mr. Karns can examine the government’s evidence against you, including the statements of its witnesses. As an experienced military attorney, Mr. Karns can develop the circumstances of the case which are favorable to your side of the story and expose the biases and discredit the testimony of the witnesses being used against you. An experienced military attorney is indispensable to developing evidence for your side of the case, as well as dismantling the case that has been made against you.

Because these cases can engender sympathy for the accuser, it can be difficult for the public and jurors to neutrally examine and scrutinize the facts -- even if you have been falsely accused. It takes an experienced military attorney such as Mr. Karns to get the jury to focus on the facts in a manner and to the degree that will afford you a fair trial.

Past Cases

Client was a Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps stationed in Okinawa who was charged with assault, drunk and disorderly, provoking speech and gestures, and false official statement. The charges resulted from a fight with three other Marines after Client had consumed alcohol and was accused of making derogatory and harassing comments towards a female Marine. Client was put on legal hold, an investigation was opened, and Client hired Attorney Karns to defend him. Client’s command intended to prefer charges against Client for a special court-martial with the intent to offer a plea deal which included an Other Than Honorable Discharge. Attorney Karns was able to persuade the command to instead impose nonjudicial punishment on Client who was subsequently retained in the Marines Corps.

Client was a Cpl in the USMC charged with four specifications of assault and a specification of drunk and disorderly conduct, all of which were referred to a special court-martial. Client hired Attorney Karns to defend him. Client had accumulated three years of service and did not want to be separated from the USMC or receive a criminal conviction. Attorney Karns persuaded Client’s command to agree a pretrial agreement in which Client received a summary court-martial and was retained in the USMC.

Client was a SrA in the Air Force whose wife accused him of domestic violence and gave the security forces a written statement. Client hired Attorney Karns. Client’s wife, with Attorney Karns, completed an Affidavit of Nonprosecution (ANP) and explained what really happened. Attorney Karns submitted the ANP to Client’s command. Client’s command dropped the charges and took no further action.

Client was an Air Force Major and pilot who was charged with eight different specifications for choking, striking, and threatening to kill his wife over a five year period. Client was facing a maximum sentence of thirty-four years and a Dismissal (Dishonorable Discharge) from the USAF. Client hired Attorney Karns, who, after the Art. 32 hearing, persuaded Client’s command to decline a court-martial. Client instead accepted non-judicial punishment (NJP), Reprimand, and forfeiture of half pay for two months. Subsequent to the NJP, the command initiated an administrative separation action against Client and sought an Other Than Honorable Discharge. At the Separation Board, Attorney Karns presented Client’s outstanding service record and the expert testimony of Client’s therapist who testified that Client suffered from PTSD due to a deployment. The Board discharged Client, but awarded him a General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions.

Client was a Navy Airman who was accused of an assault after having already received nonjudicial punishment for a prior assault. Client fervently wanted to stay in the Navy and hired Mr. Karns to represent him. Due to Client’s ADD condition, Mr. Karns persuaded Client’s command to impose nonjudicial punishment rather than pursue a court-martial. Client received extra duty and was reduced from E-4 to E-3, but received no loss of pay or restriction. Client was retained in the Navy and is still eligible for an Honorable Discharge upon the completion of his service.



* 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.