What is a Court-Martial?

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A court-martial is a judicial court that tries members of the armed services who have been accused of breaking military laws. The Uniform Code of Military Justice outlines three court-martial types. These types of court-martial—summary, special, and general—differ in a number of ways, including the types of punishments that they may impose. Below is an overview of the three types of court-martials.

Summary Court-Martial

A summary court-martial may only try enlisted personnel for noncapital crimes, and the officer presiding over the proceeding is not required to be an attorney or judge. The punishment to be imposed for a particular crime depends on the grade of the accused service member. These punishments include:

  • Enlisted personnel above E-4 – For enlisted personnel above E-4, a summary court-martial may impose any punishment except death, dismissal, dishonorable discharge, hard labor without confinement for over 45 days, confinement for over one month, restriction for over two months, or forfeiture of over two-thirds of one month’s pay.

  • All other enlisted personnel – For all other enlisted personnel, the court-martial may impose confinement for a period of no more than one month and may lower the accused individual’s pay grade to E-1.

Special Court-Martial

A special court-martial may try anyone subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including officers, enlisted members, and midshipmen. A special court-martial is composed of at least a military judge and three members, but an accused has the option of being tried by a military judge alone upon request. Special court-martial punishments include:

  • Any punishment except death, dismissal, dishonorable discharge, confinement for over one year, hard labor for over three months, any forfeiture of pay for over one year, or forfeiture of pay exceeding two-thirds per month.

General Court-Martial

A general court-martial may try anyone subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including officers, enlisted members, and midshipmen. A general court-martial is composed of at least a military judge and five members, but an accused has the option of being tried by a military judge alone upon request. General court-martial punishments include:

  • Any punishment not prohibited by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including death in certain situations.

Denver Court Martial Defense Attorneys

As noted above, the punishments and penalties for military crimes can be harsh. Therefore, if you are currently facing a military court-martial, it’s important to seek experienced legal counsel as soon as possible. Our attorneys have years of experience defending service members facing a wide array of serious allegations. Combining years of trial experience on high profile cases, our experienced attorneys offer our military clients top-tier representation. Whether you are stationed in the United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Germany, Italy, Korea, Japan or elsewhere, our experienced Denver attorneys are ready and willing to fight for your rights regardless of your location. Please contact us for a free consultation as soon as possible.

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