Japan is a fantastic place to service in the military.
It is a country rich in culture and there are many beautiful and interesting places to visit. A highly efficient and user-friendly public transportation system makes it easy to explore the country and have memorable adventures. Whether stationed in Yokosuka, Iwakuni, Tokyo, Zama, Okinawa, or elsewhere, being stationed in Japan or going there on temporary duty can be a lot of fun if done right.
However, your dream assignment can easily turn into a nightmare with one misstep or false allegation. For example, United States Forces Japan (USFJ) Liberty Order imposes a curfew on certain individuals, restricts alcohol consumption during certain hours, and places certain locations off limits at all times. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps impose further restrictions on their own respective branch. These policies can turn a night of fun into a career ender (or worse), as they are taken very seriously. You will likely be shown no mercy even if you are only one minute late, or accidentally walk into the wrong place.
Alleged policy violations are charged under Article 92, UCMJ at court martial, punished with Nonjudicial Punishment (NJP), and/or processed with administrative adverse action. Card readers at the entry to military facilities log the time of a servicemember’s return, and Military Police commonly patrol areas nearby when it is close to the restricted hours, ready to pounce on alleged violators. Even if you have a valid defense, the authorities will not believe you. You will need an effective attorney to present a defense for you.
More serious allegations that trigger an investigation by NCIS, OSI, or CID may be even more devastating. Investigations in Japan can last up to one year, or longer. This might be due to many reasons, to include evidence and witnesses that investigators attempt to track down outside of Japan, lack of agency manpower, or lengthy coordination through the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Japanese authorities. During that time, the investigated servicemember will be held in place even after their PCS or ETS date. This means they will be stuck in Japan and won’t be able to leave until the investigation is complete and the suspected offense is disposed of. Being stuck overseas is a very stressful process for all servicemembers who go through it. Make no mistake, the best time to retain us is during the investigation. However, getting us involved in your defense late is better than never.
Have You Been charged with a federal offense?
At the Law Office of David S. Hendrickson, we are familiar with the military in Japan. Whether advising remotely from our office in Hawaii or visiting the various installations in Japan to defend servicemembers, we know Japan and have provided highly effective counsel to military members there for many years. We know what it takes to fight the government in this environment and win. If you or a loved one has been involved with military law enforcement in Japan, call us! It might make all the difference.