Administrative Separations and Boards of Inquiry

Individuals may be separated administratively from the services for numerous reasons, to include weight control failure, unsatisfactory performance and misconduct. This process is known as an administrative separation hearing for enlisted service members and a board of inquiry for officers. As part of the administrative separation process, servicemembers may be entitled to a hearing in front of a board. For enlisted members, this board consists of one field grade officer and two additional members, typically an officer of any rank and an enlisted member  in the rank of E-7 or higher. For officers, the three member board consists of three officers, all senior in rank to the respondent. During deliberations, the board will first determine if the basis for separation is met. If the basis is met, they will recommend whether or not retain the servicemember and, if separated, the characterization of their service. The types of discharges available in these administrative actions are Honorable, General (under honorable conditions), and Other-than-Honorable. Since the discharges available are less severe than those available at court-martial, the burden of proof the government is required to meet is also less severe; it is a preponderance of the evidence standard (meaning more likely than not) rather than a beyond a reasonable doubt standard. Servicemembers are entitled to be represented by military defense counsel before the board and also retain the right to hire civilian counsel on their own behalf.

Matthew Smith has participated in the administrative separations and boards of inquiry from all sides of the process. He has served as a command legal advisor to commanders initiating the process; as a recorder (similar to the prosecutor in these proceedings); as counsel for the respondent in dozens of proceedings (the defense counsel); and as the final legal reviewer in hundreds of administrations prior to final command action. Click the free consultation button to see how he can help you protect what you've earned.