Under the UCMJ, there are three possible types of courts martial that can be convened. The determination on what type is convened is based upon the rank of the accused as well as the type of criminal offense involved. As with civilian court, the accused must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but military court has an extremely high conviction rate, averaging around 90%.

Summary Court Martial
This is the most basic form of court martial, which is convened for minor offenses. The cases are judged by one commissioned officer, and this form of court martial will only be convened for non-capital offenses. Punishments vary, based upon the rank of the person accused. No defense lawyer will be provided to you, but you have the right to hire your own defense lawyer, which is advised.

Special Court Martial
A special court martial is convened for misdemeanor offenses, and can try all members of the military, including officers. The punishments imposed cannot include death, dishonorable discharge, dismissal, confinement for more than one year, or forfeiture of pay beyond a certain percentage. If you are accused of a violation under the USMJ and facing a special court martial, it is important that you speak to an independent military criminal defense attorney, as the system can find you guilty if you are not professionally defended by a seasoned attorney that is familiar with the military justice system.

General Court Martial
This is the most serious of form of courts martial, and involves a minimum of a five member panel, as well as military judge. The defendant has the right to request a trial by judge only. This is the military court in which felony crimes are addressed. All members of the military can be subject to a general court martial, including officers as well as midshipmen. Any punishment could be imposed, including death in some cases. Although you can be provided with a defense lawyer by the military, it is advised that you retain the services of a highly experienced military criminal defense lawyer on your own. As the penalties imposed can be so severe, you cannot afford to take chances with your defense counsel.


Are you under investigation or facing court martial? It is imperative that you contact a military criminal defense lawyer to manage your case and help you to seek to avoid the extreme punishments that can be imposed upon you. Contact Joseph L. Jordan, Attorney at Law for an initial consultation about your case.