The Process of a Court Martial Trial

Court Martial Trial: When one faces a court-martial trial it is a very serious matter. These trials can lead military members to possible loss of pay.


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When one faces a court-martial trial it is a very serious matter. These trials can lead military members to possible loss of pay, additional types of fines, confinement, and other various punishments. If you face a court martial trial, the first thing you should do is reach out to a court-martial lawyer so they can help defend you. They will be able to seek out the facts of a case and also help you through the process of a court-martial trial. Now, let us take a more in-depth look at what exactly we mean by the court-martial process.

What is the process of a Court Martial Trial?

One difference that makes a court martial trial unique, either in a general court martial trials or special court martial trials is that the judge is a military judge. Another unique attribute is also the jury is what they call a military jury, all members will be from the military in these types of cases.

In a Court martial trial, the military defendant gets to choose a format for their trial, essentially who is going to decide his or her fate in the court. So, they can choose either having a military judge alone decide the verdict on their case, or they can take the route of having a military jury review and decide on the case. Either way one goes they should hire a court martial lawyer to help with their defence.

Court Martial Trial

In these cases, I one chooses the military jury selection then all the members of that jury must outrank the accused military member. This can be rank itself or the date with which one was ranked. Also, a third of this jury must also be enlisted at the time of the trial, so if the accused is say an officer, then the rest of the jury must be officers as well in order to be allowed on the panel and they must outrank the accused. In a general type of court martial trial, there must be no less than five court members are chosen for the jury.

In the special court-martial trials there must be no less than three members chosen for the jury. In these situations, if the accused needs help to try to decide what option to take and who they should choose for the trial, they should contact a court martial trial lawyer to help them make the right decision.

GCM – or General Court Martial

When one faces a general court martial trial, the maximum sentence permitted is what the UCMJ law specifies for each given offence. This means for every offence one is accused of, if found guilty, all the charges according to the UCMJ law are added up and that will be the maximum punishment or sentence the accused can receive. There are many different punishments one can be sentenced in a general court martial trial, these could be:

  • Confinement – Which could be either military prison or jail
  • Enlisted confinement – which is hard labour not inside a jail or prison
  • Loss of allowances and or pay
  • Reduction of one’s rank
  • Or dishonourable discharge or bad conduct discharge

As you can see, the punishments can be very severe for one facing a general court martial trial. In these cases, a court-martial lawyer can help you get these charges dropped or reduced.

SCM also known as Special court martial

Special court martial trials are a little different in regards to what types of punishments can be handed out. These punishments are much less severe compared to a general court martial trial. The maximum sentences for these trials are as follows:

  • Bad conduct discharge
  • 1-year maximum confinement in a military prison or jail
  • 2/3 loss of pay per month for up to a year
  • And a reduction of rank if one is enlisted

The minimum sentence for cases in a special court martial is no punishment at all or also considered to be all charges dropped. Officers rarely go to these types of trials because the punishments for officers is limited.

In the military and these types of court-martial trials, either special or general alike, offences are not called misdemeanours or felonies. No matter the offence it will be called a federal criminal conviction. With that said, you could consider a general court martial trial to be a felony trial and a special court-martial trial would be closer to a misdemeanour type of court.

READ: 5 Facts That You Need to Know Today

So, we know the differences within the two types of court-martial trials and the punishments that can follow if one is convicted of a federal military crime. Hiring the right military court-martial trial lawyer can be the difference between having these charges dropped or receiving the maximum sentence of which they state. If you choose a military lawyer that lawyer will be from the same branch as the accused.

But one does have the right to hire a civilian lawyer as well. These civilian lawyers are often just as experienced as military lawyers or more. They can make sure to look at a case and its facts in an unbiased manner and defend you no matter what the charge. So, if you or a loved one faces either a general or a special court-martial trial, you should reach out to a military court-martial trial lawyer today and get a consultation for your case.


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