Why Does The Military Have Its Own Court System?

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We get asked this question a lot. The easiest way to answer it is to imagine would it would be like if the military justice system did not exist. 

Imagine you are on active duty, serving overseas, and someone accuses you of sexual assault. Would you like to be arrested and sent back to the United States to face charges? Or would you rather your case be handled by the potentially non-existant or corrupt legal system in the country you are currently stationed in? Neither option is good. 

Now, imagine you decide to willfully disobey your commanding officer. The order was lawful, you just didn’t like it. As a result, some equipment is damaged. What is the best way to hold someone like you accountable for their actions? How can you ensure your side of the story will be told? 

As both of these examples illustrate, there are good reasons why the military has its own legal system. It operates all around the world, and it takes the realities of military life and work into consideration. 

A Long History Of Military Law

Having separate laws that govern members of the military is an ancient concept that military personnel in America have been subject to since before the Revolution. After the Revolution, our Founding Fathers inserted language into the Constitution that formally authorizes a separate military legal system. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution permits Congress to “make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.” 

Congress has taken this responsibility seriously, and over the years it has passed numerous laws concerning military justice. The latest re-write was done in the 1950s, and that set of laws is known as the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). 

While a lot of the crimes covered by the UCMJ are also crimes in the civilian world, some are not. Many are designed to govern workplace grievances that are unique to the military and ensure orders are followed. It would be impossible for a civilian court to oversee such cases. 

All Appeals Lead To SCOTUS

There is one important way in that the military courts and civilian courts are alike. No matter what system you are under, the highest court in the land is always the Supreme Court of the United States. This is important because it emphasizes the fact that our military is governed by the rule of law. 

Military personnel, even at the highest levels, must obey the law. They cannot act arbitrarily or commit criminal acts without fearing punishment. The same legal system that governs you, governs them. The same system that protects you, protects them. If any member of the military is treated unjustly, he or she can appeal a case all the way up to the Supreme Court, just like every other citizen of the United States has the right to do. 

The Court-Martial Law Division of Aviso Law LLC Helps Military Members Around the World Seek Justice

If you or a loved one has been charged with an allegation of misbehavior and must face a court-martial, are under investigation, or are seeking to appeal a decision you disagree with, Aviso Law LLC’s Court-Martial Law Division may be able to help. 

We know the ins and outs of the military legal system, and are ready to put our experience to work for you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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