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Top 10 ways to stay out of jail

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- This article has been circulated by the Defense community within the Air Force for several years. It was written by a former Senior Defense Counsel who was responsible for supervising three military defense attorneys stationed at different bases. These observations and suggestions were formulated after years of experience defending Air Force members against adverse administrative actions, nonjudicial punishments, and courts-martial.

I have made minor revisions to the preexisting advice, but the largest portion of the article remains completely unchanged. This is due to the fact that we continue to see the same trends today as we did five or ten years ago. 

Today's Airmen work hard and deserve to enjoy themselves; however, Airmen need to conduct themselves responsibly when off-duty to avoid being subject to disciplinary action when they return to work.

Observation 1: Too many Airmen drink too much. A large proportion of the cases that ADCs deal with involve alcohol. I'm not telling you not to drink, but the quantity of alcohol consumed at parties and nightclubs is excessive. If you drink underage or drink yourself into a stupor every weekend, you need help - please get it before you and an ADC have to talk about your Article 15.

Observation 2: Drug use remains one of the most common court-martial offenses, and it often follows drinking. If you use drugs, you'll get caught because one of your friends will tell on you - drug use tends to be a group activity and someone always ends up talking about it. I'm not an expert on human nature, but if you think your friends are different, you're kidding yourself. They will do anything to insulate themselves from trouble and let you be the fall-guy for their misconduct.

Observation 3: Commanders, first sergeants and the legal office staff are not out to get you. These are men and women with integrity who take adverse action only when presented with evidence. Sometimes that evidence proves an offense, sometimes it doesn't; but nobody is out to get you. It's my job to ensure the process works correctly.

Observation 4: Airmen who face adverse action are generally good people. I've had the best clients in the world and will do everything in my power to defend you if you become one of them, as will the ADCs at other Air Force bases.

Here, then, is the Top Ten List of things you can do to complete a successful enlistment. An honorable discharge and the new Post-911 GI Bill can open many doors for you whether you choose to continue your military service or separate. I want you to succeed and the Air Force wants you to succeed, but the choice is yours:

10. Quit getting sloppy drunk; otherwise, you'll end up doing something really stupid.

9. Never use drugs; ask yourself if it's worth your career, your $90,000 GI Bill, and the potential of a criminal record.

8. Don't steal or lie, even a little; stealing and lying in the military is a crime and you can get in a lot of trouble for doing both.

7. Live within your means; I still can't afford a Porsche - you can't afford a Porsche.

6. Have a good attitude and be valuable; good Airmen get breaks because they've earned them.

5. Make fitness a priority; maintaining fitness standards will make you mentally sharp, happy, and healthy.

4. Don't engage in sexual activity without consent; don't have sex when the other person has had too much to drink.

3. Never misuse computers; things you download and send are forever and will come back to haunt you.

2. Choose your friends wisely; if you hang out with people that constantly make bad decisions, you will eventually get blamed for what they did.

1. Know that you are legally entitled to speak with a lawyer when you are read your rights; you can always make a statement after you have consulted with counsel after receiving the full benefit of their sound advice. You cannot be punished for exercising this right, so never fear harsher punishment because you ask to consult with the ADC.