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of a state or federal law or a charge under the UCMJ. There are significant
differences in how these cases are handled these include distinct differences
ranging from what is considered a violation to the way the case is prosecuted
to the severity of the punishment
There are three different classifications of courts-martial with the Uniform
Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
1. Summary Court-Martial
2. Special Court-Martial
3. General Court-Martial
burden of proof in a civilian criminal court the accused must be proven guilty
beyond a reasonable doubt. While there are three classifications only 2 allow
the accused to be represented by a lawyer.
A summary court-martial consists of one commissioned officer, and may try
only enlisted personnel for non-capital offenses. The degree of punishment
imposed depends on the grade of the accused.
For enlisted members above the fourth pay grade, a summary court-martial
may impose punishments not forbidden by the law except death, dismissal,
dishonorable or bad conduct discharge, confinement for more than 1 month,
hard labor without confinement for more than 45 days, restriction to specified
limits for more than 2 months, or forfeiture of more than two-thirds of 1
In the case of all other enlisted members, the court-martial may also impose
confinement for not more than one month and may reduce the accused to the
lowest pay grade, E-1.
The accused has the absolute right to refuse trial by summary court-martial.
The accused does not have the right to be represented by an attorney. The
accused does have the right to cross-examine witnesses, to call witnesses and
produce evidence, and to testify or remain silent.
If you or a family member is facing a special or general court-martial visit our
Military Attorneys Directory and contact an experienced attorney in your area.
Learn more about special court-martial and general court-martial.