DEFENSE SERVICES ORGANIZATION (DSO)
DSO Mission Statement
The Marine Corps Defense Service Organization provides zealous, ethical and effective defense counsel services to Marines and Sailors who are facing administrative, non-judicial and judicial actions in order to protect and promote due process, statutory and constitutional rights, thereby ensuring the military justice system is both fair and just.
We are Marines – Judge Advocates and Legal Services Specialists – who are dedicated to defending our fellow Marines and Sailors, by providing them legal counsel in any matter required by statute, regulation, or otherwise authorized.
We are zealous advocates for our clients, serving independently of the local chain of command and under the supervision of the Marine Corps Defense Services Organization. We zealously represent each and every client within the guidelines of the law, consistent with our professional ethics, and in accordance with our rules of practice.
We selflessly perform our duties with the utmost integrity, motivation and pride, without fear of reprisal, or expectation of professional or personal gain. In the same spirit as “Taking Care of Our Own,” we are “Marines Defending Marines.”
Hours of Operation
Hours: 1300 - 1600 Tuesday and Thursday (excluding holidays) or by appointment.
Location: 29 Palms Defense Building 1428
Walk-ins accepted only for the following: Administrative Separation, Non-Judicial Punishment, Fast Track Counseling, Summary Court-Martial, Courts-Martial, Adverse Administrative Counseling, or Criminal Law Legal Advice.
Required Documentation for Walk-In Counseling
The charge sheet.
Administrative separation notification or similar documents.
Administrative counseling documents.
Summary of the evidence that will be used at the hearing, if applicable, must be provided before a defense counsel will be made available to provide walk-in counseling - whether done in-person or remotely.
If a Marine or Sailor comes in for walk-in counseling and does not have these materials, a member of the DSO may contact the command to obtain those documents. Without these required materials, the Defense Trial Team may determine that the individual Marine cannot be adequately counseled.
The DSO offers services limited to the uniformed service members on active duty and reservist components. We proudly assist our clients with zealous, ethical and effective defense counsel services to those who may have legal advice or are facing Administrative Separation, Non-Judicial Punishment, Summary Court-Martial, Special Court-Martial, or General Court-Martial.
We help provide our clients with their rights and guide them through the Administrative and Judicial process that they may be facing. In addition, we ensure that every decision we make is in the best interest of our clients.
We do not provide legal advice regarding power of attorney, debt relief, divorce, child custody, leases, property law, contracts, etc. You can find legal advice regarding those issues at Legal Assistance in building 1514.
We do not provide any legal services to dependents of uniformed service members and we do not represent uniformed service members in civilian courts.
Defense Services Points of Contact
Defense Services Bldg 1428
Defense Chief (760) 830-7463
Defense Clerk (760) 830-5271
Guidance and References
In a legal emergency, we strongly urge you to exercise your legal rights under Article 31(b) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and the United States Constitution, even if you believe you are innocent.
You have the right to remain silent when questioned by law enforcement or by your command. If you choose to exercise this right, they must cease questioning immediately and “scrupulously honor” your request.
You have the right to be informed of the nature of the accusation against you.
You have the right to speak to a lawyer prior to questioning. You also have a right to have a defense attorney present during questioning. In the military, a defense attorney will be provided at no expense.
You have the right to be free from unreasonable searches. It is not a mere courtesy when law enforcement asks permission to search your residence, your vehicle, your bags, or your pockets. They are asking for you legal consent, which you have a right to refuse. Refusing consent will force them to get a command search authorization (a search warrant), which they might not be able to get. Also, a defense attorney can attack the validity of the warrant later.
Your choice to use any of these rights cannot be used against you in trial by court-martial. A prosecutor is prohibited from saying in court “why would he remain silent unless he was guilty?” Thus, you have nothing to lose by standing on your rights.
Law enforcement is legally permitted to lie to you during questioning. They can fabricate witnesses, evidence, or falsely claim that others have already agreed to testify against you.
No prosecutor, law enforcement officer, or member of your command has authority to “go easy” on you. If you want to own up to your misconduct, tell your defense attorney. He can use your willingness to negotiate a written, pre-trial agreement.
You should tell the truth to your defense attorney. You can trust that what is said in private will remain private. Your defense attorney has a legal and ethical obligation to keep your secrets.
According to the Rules of Professional Conduct, a covered attorney shall not reveal information relating to representation of a client unless the client consents after consultation, except for disclosures that are impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation, and except as stated in paragraphs (b) and (c) of the Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6, JAG Inst. 5803.1C.
Paragraph (b) refers to when a lawyer suspects a client of intent to commit a crime likely to result in imminent death or substantial bodily harm. Paragraph (c) refers to litigation between an attorney and a client. Attorneys who violate the Rules of Professional Conduct may be subject to disciplinary action.
Communications made in private to an attorney are covered by the attorney-client privilege. This means that these communications cannot be introduced into evidence in a trial by court-martial.
According to the Military Rules of Evidence
A client has a privilege to refuse to disclose and to prevent any other person from disclosing confidential communications made for the purpose of facilitating the rendition of professional legal services to the client, (1) between the client or the client’s representative and the attorney or the attorney’s representative, (2) between the attorney and the attorney’s representative, (3) by the client or the client’s attorney to a lawyer representing another in a matter of common interest, (4) between representatives of the client or between the client and a representative of the client, or (5) between attorneys representing the client. Military Rule of Evidence 502(a).
If you talk to anyone other than a defense attorney about your case, the prosecutor may be able to force that person to testify against you. This includes physicians, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, journalists, substance abuse counselors, social workers, parents/children, girlfriends/boyfriends, roommates, co-workers, your Commanding Officer, your Platoon Sergeant, etc.
Do not talk to anyone besides defense counsel about your case. We do not reveal whether a service member is currently talking to a lawyer or has talked to a lawyer in the past.
Professional Independence: Defense attorneys serve independently of the local chain of command.
MARCORSEPMAN (MCO P1900.16)
Manual for Courts-Martial
IRAM (MCO P1070.12K)
JAGINST 5800.7G, Manual of the Judge Advocate General
MCO 6110.3 Marine Corps Body Composition and Military Appearance Program