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Court Martial

What Is A Court-Martial?

A court-martial is a military criminal trial. The military has jurisdiction to prosecute service members for any violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). You have the right to a military court-martial defense attorney. Contact us if you want a military lawyer with the experience to defend you against anything. Steph and Abby have defended and prosecuted hundreds of trials and are two of the most knowledgeable military attorneys you can find.

Crimes committed under the UCMJ are considered federal crimes. The military has jurisdiction over its members everywhere in the world. That means service members can face a court-martial for violations that occur on or off a military installation.

Some of the UCMJ Articles are the same or very similar to civilian crimes, such as assault, larceny, and homicide. Many are military crimes, such as absent without leave (Article 86) or disrespect toward a superior commissioned officer (Article 89).

Regardless of the crime, you’ll want a court-martial lawyer who knows the military justice system. When you hire us, you are hiring a team that is committed to defending your rights, protecting your freedom, and helping you fight back.

Types Of Court-Martial

There are three types of court-martial and they all have slightly different rules.

1.  General Court-Martial (GCM)

A general court-martial is the highest level of court-martial involving the most serious offenses. Before a general court-martial can be convened, there must be a preliminary hearing pursuant to Article 32, UCMJ. After the Article 32 hearing, the Preliminary Hearing Officer (PHO) makes a recommendation to the General Court-Martial Convening Authority, who may then choose to convene a court-martial. A general court-martial can adjudge any sentence up to the maximum sentence for each offense prescribed by the UCMJ. The trial consists of a military judge, trial counsel, defense counsel, and a panel of members. A conviction at a general court-martial is a federal conviction.

2.  Special Court-Martial (SPCM)

A special court-martial is used to try what would generally be considered misdemeanor offenses. A special court-martial has limits on what maximum punishment can be imposed, regardless of the maximum punishment for an offense listed in the Manual for Courts-Martial. For example, a single use of marijuana carries a maximum punishment of a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 2 years. In a special court-martial, the maximum sentence would be a bad conduct discharge, forfeiture of 2/3 pay per month for 12 months, and confinement for one year. The trial consists of a military judge, trial counsel, defense counsel, and a panel of members.

You can also have your case referred to a special court-martial by Military Judge alone, which has even more restrictions on the maximum punishment. Some people refer to these trials as a “short-martial.” In every case, if you are found guilty and convicted at a special court-martial, it is a federal conviction.

3.  Summary Court-Martial (SCM)

A summary court-martial is reserved for minor offenses committed by enlisted service members. The enlisted member must agree to be tried at the summary court-martial, though if the member disagrees, a general or special court-martial may be preferred against them. An officer may not be tried at a summary court-martial. The punishments are limited, and a conviction at a summary court-martial is not a conviction for civilian purposes.

Court-Martial Consequences

The maximum punishment that can be imposed at a court-martial varies by the type of court-martial and the specific offenses that have been charged. A punitive discharge at a court-martial is a bad conduct discharge, dishonorable discharge, or dismissal (for officers). Confinement can be adjudged, though a sentence to confinement of more than 10 years requires concurrence of three-fourths of the members. Other punishments include reduction to the lowest enlisted pay grade, restriction, a reprimand, and forfeitures of all pay and allowances. Some offenses allow for a sentence to death with the concurrence of all the members.

Other consequences of a court-martial involved registration as a sex offender or loss of the ability to own a firearm. These are very serious consequences that should be aggressively defended against by a defense attorney.

A Different Type Of Justice System

The military justice system is unique and complex. Service members facing court-martial charges have the right to be represented by a civilian defense lawyer at no expense to the government. The choice of a civilian attorney is very important.  It is essential that you retain an attorney who has the experience, dedication, and passion to defend them against charges brought by the military. At Kral Military Defense, we give your case the time and attention you deserve. You’ll have a legal team like no other on your side to protect your rights.

Contact An Experienced Military Lawyer Today

For a free consultation, call (619) 376-6820 or use the online contact form.

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*Please note, KMD does not handle cases involving the Department of Veterans Affairs, disability claims, or family law matters.

You never expect to need an attorney while you are serving in the Military. You even procrastinate thinking you can manage the simplicity of your case, because after all, you are innocent, and you think the Government will recognize that. However, sometimes simplicity is not a government characteristic and things can spiral out of control. If you are a service member and ever need legal assistance, I implore you to call an Attorney.You will want a knowledgeable attorney with a military background, extensive NLSO connections, who shoots straight and will be the sharp end of your legal sword.Stephanie Kral was my attorney through 3 years of managing my case against the U.S. Gov. and without Stephanie and her team, it would have been a nightmare. I am fortunate to have enlisted her services and had the opportunity to watch her navigate the complexities of military law. She is everything you will want in an experienced attorney for both simple and complex cases. Call them immediately!
Marty S.
Marty S.
The paralegal Danielle is one of the best I have worked with. She was and is still one of my mentors in my career and life. She took care of me a many others as a defense paralegal manager. She always makes time for you. Her knowledge and her compassion for taking care of people is why she is who she is!! The Best! She is someone you will always want on your side. She is truly one of the best people I know!!!!
Tasha S.
Tasha S.
Stephanie is the most professional, well respected, and most genuine legal person that I know in the business. After working with her, from the moment we talked to the time she finished my case, she gave not only 100 percent of her time and dedication but also complete devotion to my needs, advise, and my case without hesitation. Her extensive background in military law coming from her military background as a Major in the United States Airforce and now civilian law comes unmatched. Her dedication to protecting the rights of military members speakes for itself with the flawless record she has out there in the fleet. Words cant express enough what she has done for me and my family ensuring I got the fairest case available and the best outcome there was. Thank you Stephanie. She is the best there is!!
Anthony B.
Anthony B.
Fortunately, I have not had to use these services however, once I heard Danielle worked here I knew I would be in good hands should I ever need assistance. Danielle was my paralegal supervisor when I was first entered into the paralegal career field and she changed my career trajectory for the better. She paved the way for me to promote through the ranks and managed my training phase from an apprentice to a journeyman in the career field. She has expert knowledge and provides candid feedback to those who ask. She's an all around professional.
Don G.
Don G.
I have been attempting to write this review for Stephanie for 3 months, Everytime I write it I delete it because I don’t think it’s good enough. This review was long past due but To the individual that may be facing any type of legal troubles from the bottom of my heart this is THE lawyer that you want on your side. At the age of 21, I faced 20 years in prison for a crime I did not commit. Stephanie is the definition of top-tier no words can describe how grateful I am for Stephanie and her team. She not only got my case dismissed, but she gave me my life back, for 2 1/2 years I was stuck in South Korea my command didn’t allow me to take leave. When I told Stephanie she dropped everything and went above and beyond, Steph personally told the government they better allow me to take leave to see my family. THE SAME DAY! They granted me 45 days of leave & when I came back I received a call from Stephanie, yelling with joy “ they are dropping all the charges “. Stephanie is that lawyer you see in movies who always wins, even when you feel like something isn’t going right Stephanie is always in control. Not only did the government lawyers respect her, the judge respected her , the Commanding General respected her and knew her name. So all I can say is thank you Stephanie and if you’re someone who truly needs help this is your lawyer ! Stephanie told me I was her second longest case that she ever had but one thing I can always guarantee about Stephanie is she never lacks when it comes to communication anything you wanna know anything you should know she will let you know Stephanie is an open book she tells you how it is she’s not gonna lie to you or waste your time.From the bottom of my heart thank you Stephanie !
Darrell L.
Darrell L.
Steph is the best in the business. She is compassionate, hardworking, intelligent, diligent, and knowledgeable. As a fellow attorney and colleague, I have reached out to Steph to bring her on board and help with some of my toughest cases, knowing having her by my side would lead to the best possible outcome.She is a fierce advocate for her clients; she does not back down or take nonsense from anyone. She is one of the few attorneys I would never want to see on the other side of a case.If you are in a tough spot and in need of legal assistance, you will not find better representation than Stephanie Kral.
Daniel M.
Daniel M.
Before I retired from the Air Force, I had a life altering experience. I was accused of some very serious crimes and facing major prison time if convicted. I was referred to Stephanie Kral by a legal advisor and man, was I happy that I obtained her service. This woman is a master of her craft. She was professional, focused, extremely through with her research and background information gathering. Mrs. Kral’s litigation skills are at extraordinary levels and once I’ve seen her 1st day in court I knew I was is great hands. I owe my life to Stephanie Kral and I would recommend her to anyone needing the best military criminal defense attorney around.
Erik M.
Erik M.
Stephanie Kral is an amazing attorney. She went above and beyond and works tirelessly to get the best outcome. She is a caring and intelligent attorney who chooses to personally communicate with you along the way, always making you feel like a priority. Stephanie, Thank you for all you do!
Erin S.
Erin S.

About The Firm

Kral Military Defense defends members of America's military throughout the world. We do not maintain physical office space in the traditional sense. Instead, we offer secure video and telephone consultations and meet with current clients, as needed, at home and abroad.

Office Location

3111 Camino Del Rio N.
Suite 400
San Diego, CA 92108

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Nothing on this site should create an expectation of any particular outcome or result. Every case is unique.

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