Civilian Law Versus Military Law
When citizens of the United States commit infractions that violate civilian law, they are responsible for absorbing the consequences of their actions. This may mean paying a fine, participating in service work, or spending time in a detention facility, but lower level infractions do not always necessitate a civilian criminal trial. Depending on the details of the case, charges may be dismissed before they make it to court, and depending on the severity of the charges, pre-trial hearings may be sufficient for determining punishments. Most of the time, of course, these trials go to court, and defendants often seek out a civilian defense attorney to ensure a solid defense.
A court-martial defense is slightly more complicated. Members of the United States Military operate under a unique justice system called the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and the UCMJ includes important tenets that hold military members to a strict set of standards. Cases that deal with infractions of military code can sometimes mimic the general structure of a civilian case, with some cases being dealt with outside of a trial. If a military member is accused of violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Commander may choose to deal with the infraction with “administrative” disciplinary action in which the accused must atone for his or her crime.
In cases of more serious crimes, however, the Commander will likely decide to take the case to court (known as a court-martial). In this case, the defendant will need to present a court-martial defense. There are three main types of court-martial: summary courts-martial, special courts-martial, and general courts-martial.
A summary court-martial is only used for enlisted members of the military who are accused of committing non-capital crimes. A special court-martial deals generally with misdemeanor crimes regardless of the rank of the defendant. Thirdly, a general court martial deals with felonies and will try military members of all ranks. These various types of courts-martial have different standards for court-martial defense and different types of punishment associated with them, but they all serve to enforce the UCMJ.
A Court-Martial Defense Team
If you are facing a court-martial, you are likely feeling overwhelmed and in need of support. As previous members of the military and passionate students of Uniform Code of Military Justice, the attorneys at Military Trial Defenders are dedicated to serving members of the United States Military during times of confusion and duress. We offer court-martial defense services for all serious crimes including war crimes, various types of assault, murder, theft, and drug abuse. The military justice system can be complex, and we work to establish trust with our clients so they can feel a sense of calm and confidence during the court-martial process. Contact us today.