Overview of a


court-martial Overview

A court-martial is the military’s form of a criminal prosecution, administered in accordance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The consequences of a court-martial can include a federal conviction, prison time, and a punitive discharge. A punitive discharge is extraordinarily serious because it often results in a total loss of veterans benefits, and is frequently asked about on civilian job applications.

While each branch of the military operates slightly differently, all courts-martial are governed by the UCMJ, the Rules for Courts-Martial (RCM), and the Military Rules of Evidence (MRE). These authorities are collectively published in the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM).

There are different types of courts-martial, including summary, special, and general. A general court-martial is reserved for the most serious offenses, and is roughly the equivalent of a felony prosecution (although the military does not distinguish between felony and misdemeanor offenses).

A military member facing court-martial will be “detailed” or assigned a military defense counsel free of charge. Thankfully, just as in the civilian world, military members also have the right to hire their own attorney. However, not just any attorney, even a criminal defense attorney, will handle a military court-martial.

If you are or may be facing prosecution by the military, make sure you have an attorney who is well-versed in the UCMJ and court-martial defense. As a former area defense counsel and senior (circuit) defense counsel in the Air Force, Ross Brennan at Cronauer Law is a seasoned advocate in military court rooms.

Don’t risk the consequences of inexperienced counsel. Contact Cronauer Law today.

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