Court Martial

Courts-Martial Defense

If you have been contacted by criminal or command investigators or believe your command suspects you have committed a crime you need experienced aggressive representation to ensure your rights are protected. If you have been served a preferred charge sheet for an Article 32 hearing or Court-Martial or had charges referred against you need to act immediately to protect your rights The military justice system is a unique and specialized system designed to serve the interests of good order and discipline. Though it has many of the same features of the civilian criminal trial there a many significant differences. You need counsel that is experienced with military justice procedure and practice. Many courts-martial are won or lost before anyone steps into the courtroom. JAG DEFENDERS has over 100 years of combined experience in the military justice system with attorneys who have served as prosecutors, defense counsel and military judges. There is simply no one with the experience of JAG DEFENDERS attorneys.

There are many potential charges under the UCMJ. JAGDEFENDERS attorneys have experience defending servicemembers for virtually every charge.

These include:

Drug Offenses: Violations of UCMJ Article 112a. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Sexual Assault and Rape: Violations of UCMJ Article 120. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION:

What is a Court-Martial?
What is a Court-Martial?

In the civilian system, charges are generally brought by a neutral and detached prosecutor. This is not the case in courts-martial. A court-martial is “convened” by a Commanding Officer or General or Admiral to adjudicate alleged violations of the UCMJ. This is the first critical and major difference. Your command determines whether there is sufficient evidence to charge you and your command determines the appropriate charges. The prosecutor has no discretion, they are tasked with pursuing a conviction and like any other military order they are duty-bound to obey. This is a critical difference. It is key in this system that experienced counsel for the accused be involved as early as possible to point out the flaws, inconsistencies, and deficiencies of a case. The prosecutor is not doing this. Like in the civilian system, a court-martial is a criminal trial. The defendant is called the accused. The accused has all the basic constitutional rights that a civilian defendant enjoys. These include the right to counsel and the right against self-incrimination. The accused is entitled to free military counsel. They are very often junior officers with little experience. Military defense counsel are generally dedicated, hardworking attorneys. What they lack is experience. Understanding the law and the process is simply not enough. It is only after decades of experience in the military justice system that an attorney can properly assess a case and formulate the best plan to attack the government’s evidence. The criminal laws applicable to members of the armed forces are found in the Uniform Code of Military Justice or UCMJ. The UCMJ has many of the same crimes as in the civilian world such as murder, arson

A court-martial is a federal court convened by a Commanding Officer/General to adjudicate the alleged criminal misconduct of a military service member. A court-martial is the military’s version of a criminal trial, in which other members of the military render a finding on a service member’s guilt or innocence, and any ensuing punishment. Depending on the severity of the charges, a court-martial will take one of the following three forms:

General Court-Martial

General courts-martial are reserved for the most serious crimes including murder, sexual assault, and high-dollar larceny and/or fraud. Officer misconduct is also often adjudicated at a general court-martial to ensure dismissal is a potential punishment. A Commanding Officer/General may refer such charges to a general court-martial because this type of proceeding has no maximum jurisdictional limitations on punishment. The jury at a general court-martial can punish as much as the criminal statute allows—and many criminal statutes calculate the duration of confinement in decades rather than in years. A pretrial Article 32 hearing is required before charges can be referred to a general court-martial.

Special Court-Martial

Special courts-martial usually handle criminal matters of a misdemeanor-type nature such as a drug offense, simple assault, orders violations, or unlawful absence. Punishment may not include confinement longer than one year. Though less grave than general court-martial convictions, a special court-martial conviction will result in a criminal record for the military member and could have serious adverse effects on the service member’s career, benefits, and future.

Summary Court-Martial

Summary courts-martial are generally uncontested administrative hearings, rarely offered unless the service member acknowledges misconduct. There is no judge or jury present at a summary court-martial; instead, a sole officer chosen by the Commanding Officer/General hears the matter and renders a decision on punishment. Outcomes can include confinement for up to 30 days, but neither a criminal conviction nor punitive discharge is permissible. Nonetheless, the consequences of a summary court-martial decision can be serious, and a service member considering pleading guilty to one should seek a court-martial attorney.