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    When a member of the military is accused of a crime, it can be for a violation
    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

    The Military Rules of Evidence apply to all classifications. Similar to the
    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.

    Summary Court-Martial

    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
    month’s pay.
    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.