What rights do I have if I am convicted by court-martial?
The Army recently released its list of verdicts from September’s courts-martial. In sum, forty-four courts-martial took place among the five judicial circuits. Charges faced by military members ranged from conspiracy and abusive sexual contact to obstruction of justice and absence without leave. While there were a few acquittals, the majority of defendants were convicted. Sentences ranged greatly in severity. One military member in the Third Circuit was convicted of two specifications of sexual assault and one specification of assault consummated by a battery. He was sentenced to four years confinement and discharge from service with a dishonorable discharge.
Appealing Convictions by Special or General Court-Martial
Being convicted of a crime in the military can have devastating effects on your freedom and future. Penalties for crimes committed in the military may include confinement, fines and forfeitures, dishonorable discharge, and even death. If you have been convicted by court-martial, you may have the right to appeal your conviction depending on which type of court-martial you had.
Your case will be automatically reviewed by the person who referred the case for court-martial if you were convicted by a special or general court-martial. This person will have the right to mitigate your conviction, including reducing the charges or your sentence. If you are not satisfied with the result of the review, your court-martial defense attorney may be able to appeal the conviction to the military courts of appeal.
There are four different courts of appeals for military convictions. Convictions that result in confinement of at least one year, bad conduct discharge, dishonorable discharge, and other serious penalties will be automatically reviewed. For other sentences, you can petition to Judge Advocate General (JAG) to review your case and, rarely, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
Appealing a court-martial verdict is complex and does not have a guaranteed outcome. If you are facing court-martial, your best defense is to retain the assistance of an experienced Colorado court-martial defense lawyer. Your lawyer will mount the strongest possible defense against the serious charges you face.