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Choosing the best military lawyer. Selecting the best court martial attorney to defend you if you are facing military charges. Military defense lawyer, Michael Waddington, discusses how to interview and hire the best qualified court martial defense attorney for your military case. Call 1-866-969-9860 to speak with a civilian defense counsel today.
There are three types of courts-martial—summary, special and general. A conviction at a general court-martial is equivalent to a civilian conviction in a federal district court. Special courts-martial are considered "federal misdemeanor courts" because they cannot impose confinement longer than one year. Summary courts-martial have no civilian equivalent.
Summary Court-Martial -
Trial by summary court-martial provides a simple procedure for resolution of charges of relatively minor misconduct committed by enlisted members of the military. Officers may not be tried by summary court-martial. The enlisted accused must consent to be tried by summary court-martial, and if consent is not provided then the command may dispose of the allegation through other means, including directing that the case be tried before a special or general court-martial. The summary court-martial consists of one individual. That one officer acts as the sole finder of fact. The maximum punishment at a summary court-martial varies with the accused's paygrade. If the accused is in the pay grade of E-4 or below, he or she can be sentenced to 30 days of confinement, reduction to pay grade E-1, or restriction for 60 days. Punishments for service members in paygrades E-5 and higher are similar, except that they can only be reduced one paygrade and cannot be confined. An accused before a summary court-martial is not entitled to receive legal representation from military defense counsel. However, while not required by law, some services, such as the United States Air Force, provide the accused at a trial by summary court-martial free military counsel as a matter of policy. If the government chooses not to provide free military defense counsel to the accused, then that person may retain civilian counsel to represent them, at their own expense.
A special court-martial is the intermediate court level. It consists of a military judge, trial counsel (prosecutor), defense counsel, and a minimum of three officers sitting as a panel of court members or jury. An enlisted accused may request a court composed of at least one-third enlisted personnel. An accused may also request trial by judge alone. Regardless of the offenses involved, a special court-martial sentence is limited to no more than forfeiture of two-thirds basic pay per month for one year, and additionally for enlisted personnel, one year confinement (or a lesser amount if the offenses have a lower maximum), and/or a bad-conduct discharge. An accused before a special court-martial is entitled to free legal representation by military defense counsel, and can also retain civilian counsel at his or her expense.
A general court-martial is the highest court level. It consists of a military judge, trial counsel (prosecutor), defense counsel, and a minimum of five officers sitting as a panel of court-martial members. An enlisted accused may request a court composed of at least one-third enlisted personnel. An accused may also request trial by judge alone. In a general court-martial, the maximum punishment is that set for each offense under the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM), and may include death (for certain offenses), confinement, a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge for enlisted personnel, a dismissal for officers, or a number of other forms of punishment. A general court-martial is the only forum that may adjudge a sentence to death. Before a case goes to a general court-martial, a pretrial investigation under Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice must be conducted, unless waived by the accused. An accused before a general court-martial is entitled to free legal representation by military defense counsel, and can also retain civilian counsel at his or her expense.