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Important Details About Court Martial
A court martial process is a trial for military members accused of committing a crime and every service member is potentially subject to it, regardless of their service or branch. This includes members of the regular component as well as those of the Public Health Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration alongside other organizations that serve with the armed forces.
While hiring a reputable military defense lawyer in San Diego is advisable when facing charges in front of the military court, you should gain additional knowledge about what such trials represent. While it closely follows civilian procedure, they differ in several essential details unique to the military trial.
What is a court martial?
Any member of the military service suspected of committing any of the crimes listed under the “Punitive Articles” section of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is subject to a court martial criminal trial which is run following the guidelines of the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM), issued by the President of the United States. While there are crimes similar to civilian such as conspiracy, manslaughter, arson, or larceny, others are specific to the military, such as insubordination, desertion, and mutiny.
What are the different types of court martial?
There are 3 different types of court martial based on the gravity of the crime and the potential consequences:
Summary trial involves quick procedures for the members facing charges with minor offenses. It doesn’t require the presence of Judge Advocate General (JAG) attorneys or a military judge. Normally, a commissioned officer reviews the sentencing guidelines, facts, and legal precedents prior to issuing a decision.
Any member of the service found guilty in this trial can be sentenced to rank reduction, one month of reduced pay, 60 days of restriction to a specific area, or up to 45 days of hard labor or 30 days confinement. The military doesn’t provide free defense counsel, except for the Air Force.
The special court martial processes more severe offenses and is similar to a civilian trial, with differences in times for trial, pretrial motions, discovery, and sentencing. It is presided over by a military judge, and you are assigned a defense attorney under specific circumstances. The prosecution receives a trial attorney, and three service members make up a panel that decides case facts unless you specifically request that a judge does so.
Penalties that you may face include six months salary forfeiture, bad-conduct discharge, three months of hard labor, and one year confinement.
The general court martial prosecutes the most severe offenses. It features legal representatives for both parties as well as a military judge. The panel consists of at least 5 members in case of a non-capital offense and 10 members in case of a capital offense. It decides the facts of the case unless you request a judge to do it and the penalty that the prosecution seeks is not the death penalty.
The sentences the judge can impose are the maximum sentences allowed in the MCM or the UCMJ, including dishonorable discharge, death, and life imprisonment.
Who is the leading military defense lawyer in San Diego, CA?
If you’re a military member facing charges with a criminal accusation, it’s essential that you understand how the process of court martial works, what your rights before the court are, and how to choose the most reliable lawyer. Monder Criminal Law Group is a committed team of well-seasoned attorneys who will always give you the attention and time you deserve so you can reap all the benefits of our expertise.
Take a relaxing stroll by the San Diego River before stopping by our office so we can together devise the best plan for your defense.