How Long Does a Court Martial Take?

How Long Does a Court Martial Take?

By Stephanie Kral | March 5, 2024

The duration of a court-martial process is a vital consideration for any service member facing charges. At Kral Military Defense, we understand that the length of this legal procedure can significantly impact the lives of our clients. In this article, we delve into various factors that determine how long a court-martial might take, providing our clients with a comprehensive understanding of what to expect.

Types of Court-Martial

Firstly, it’s important to identify the type of court-martial you are facing, as this greatly influences the timeline.

  1. Summary Court-Martial: This is the lowest level, generally lasting just one day. The trial date is predetermined, providing a clear schedule from the preferral of charges to the trial.
  2. Special Court-Martial: This mid-level court handles misdemeanor-level charges. It involves a more extensive process than a Summary Court-Martial, typically taking 3-6 months from the preferral of charges to the trial conclusion. The accused, upon receiving the charge sheet, can anticipate their trial within this timeframe.
  3. General Court-Martial: The most serious level, dealing with felony-level charges, such as murder, rape, or significant assault. The process for a General Court-Martial can extend 5-8 months, starting from the date of charge preferral to the trial’s end.

Factors Influencing the Timeline

The court-martial process involves several stages, each contributing to the overall timeline:

  • Initial Investigation and Charge Preferral: This phase varies depending on the complexity of the case and the efficiency of the investigative process.
  • Article 32 Preliminary Hearing: Mandatory for General Courts-Martial, this hearing determines probable cause and can add significant time to the process.
  • Pre-Trial Motions and Hearings: Both the defense and prosecution may file various motions, requiring hearings and deliberations.
  • Appointment of Expert Witnesses and Consultants: In cases involving complex evidence or specialized knowledge, the scheduling and availability of these experts can extend the timeline.
  • Forensic Evidence Analysis: Particularly relevant in cases like homicide or sexual assault, where DNA or other forensic evidence plays a crucial role. Delays in lab analysis can add months to the court-martial process.

Kral Military Defense Approach

At Kral Military Defense, we approach each case with a tailored strategy, considering all these factors to provide our clients with a realistic timeline. Our experienced military lawyers can navigate these processes efficiently, ensuring that our clients are well-informed and prepared at every stage.

Contact Us for Expert Defense

If you are facing a court-martial, it’s crucial to have a knowledgeable and experienced legal team by your side. Kral Military Defense offers the expertise and dedication needed to navigate the complexities of military justice. Contact us for a consultation and to learn more about how we can support you through this challenging time.