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.
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.