A court-martial can be described as the judicial process through which military personnel are held accountable for their actions, in a court that has been designated for these particular proceedings. The rules and regulations are connected to military activity and cannot be imposed on ordinary civilians due to this level of specialization.
Some of the crimes that are tried in a court-martial can also be found in civilian law as well, however, with acts such as murder, theft, aggravated assault, and arson to name a few falling under the jurisdiction of both categories. In simple terms, civilian crimes can be tried within this realm when the offense concerned is committed by a member of the military personnel.
Why was the Military Court established?
Court-martial law came about as a result of the need for a different set of rules and regulations to govern military personnel. At first, this was addressed via a collection of guidelines established by the Articles of War and Articles of Government, but the changing requirements of the activities involved meant that a standard form of discipline needed to be instilled throughout the different collectives of the armed forces. Crimes such as insubordination, AWOL situations, and ill-discipline can also only be punished in a military court as these actions are not seen as unlawful when committed within a civilian jurisdiction.
Types of Court-Martials
There are three main categories of court-martials. They include:
This is the least severe type of case in the military judicial system and mainly deals with minor offenses. No lawyers or judges are involved in these proceedings, and a commissioned officer plays the role of judge, jury, and executioner. Personnel facing such action do not need to enlist the services of a Colorado Springs court-martial lawyer as no representation is deemed necessary in such circumstances. Punishments delivered in this criteria consist of trivial sentences such as temporary wage reduction or confinement, specific hard labor, or a demotion regarding rank. The kind of conviction served will depend on the current level of the officer facing the charges.
This category is reserved for more serious cases within the military and is familiar to the setup found within a civilian court. The defending party can be assigned a representative depending on the circumstances involved, and a judge and a panel of three officers are delegated with the task of handling the matter. Individuals engaged in this activity can also choose to hire a court-martial attorney should they feel the need for a more direct influence regarding their choice of legal representation. The maximum sentences that can be carried out in such cases include a year of confinement, three months of hard labor, or in sterner scenarios, a bad-conduct discharge.
This format represents the most severe of all the classifications under this category. A panel of a minimum between five and ten members is convened, with the particular number depending on the specific nature of the offense. Defendants can also choose to have the presiding judge determine the facts presented in court on their own as well, in cases where they feel that they can enjoy an unbiased ruling from the official involved in the trial. Some of the punishments that can be administered in this category include the death penalty and a dishonorable discharge.