Either of them will determine your characterization of service. Later on in life, it can preclude you from working for the government again and preclude you from working for other government organizations.
Often times, employers will ask what kind of discharge you received. They can take away your benefits, if you have any vested at that point.
Interviewer: What’s the next level from there?
Both Discharges May Prevent Your Inclusion in Veteran’s Benefits
Chris: That would be it for those two, for court-martial. For enlisted folks who get a bad conduct discharge or dishonorable discharge, that’s a repercussion. For an officer, if you’re at a general court-martial and you receive a dismissal, same thing.
It precludes you from certain veteran’s benefits. It precludes you from retirement. It precludes you from continuing service in the military, likely, will prevent you from working for the government.
Interviewer: Is there anything else, other than honorable discharge?
Chris: That’s a different avenue. It’s not part of the court-martial process. However, even if you do not receive that bad conduct discharge, or the dishonorable discharge, they can still take you to what’s called an “administrative discharge board.”
You can receive a recommendation for an honorable discharge, general, under “other honorable conditions,” or and “other than honorable conditions discharge,” which also can affect your veterans benefits and future employment, but kind of a separate conversation.
Can You Still Be Discharged from the Military Even if You Are Found Not Guilty?
Interviewer: Will you be facing the problem of a discharge hearing, no matter how your case is resolved or is it tied to the court-martial process?
Chris: Right. If you get a not guilty verdict that’s the end of the case. There cannot be any repercussions after it is concluded. To do so otherwise would be considered double jeopardy.
You Must Be an Active Military Member for Your Case to be Tried Under Military Jurisdiction
Interviewer: Is this process different for enlisted versus reservists, versus former military? At what point are you not held under this process?
Chris: If you’re a military member and you’re on active duty or on orders, this process applies to you.
Interviewer: What are the other statuses where it wouldn’t apply?
Chris: Just if you weren’t in the military or you were a guard member or reservist, not on orders. Essentially, if you’re wearing a uniform or you’re in the military, particularly active duty, court-martial always has jurisdiction over you.
Interviewer: What if you’re in the process of signing up for the military and you do something that is considered criminal? Have you ever run into that scenario?
Chris: Normally, and this isn’t a big area of law, but what happens in a situation like that is once you’ve taken your oath and you’ve signed your indoctrination paperwork, and you shift to boot camp, that’s when military jurisdiction would begin to apply to you. Before that, while they’re just simply recruiting you, it’s not going to happen.