Requesting a Court-Martial

People in the military are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which means that discipline in the military is different than civilian court proceedings. Enlisted members of the military can request a court-martial, which is essentially a military trial if they have been accused of wrongdoing.

When Does a Court-Martial Make Sense?

Nonjudicial punishment (NJP) is essentially the equivalent of avoiding trial. An enlisted person’s commanding officer will be given the details of a case and will come to a conclusion about a fitting punishment if they determine the enlisted person to be guilty. NJPs are only used for minor offenses that do not require serious punishments.

  • Members of the military are always entitled to a hearing, and can also demand a court-martial when facing nonjudicial punishment.
  • A court-martial is a full hearing and procedure that involves many people and is a more drawn-out process.
  • If a person is innocent and believes that they can prove their innocence, refusing nonjudicial punishment and requesting a court-martial may make sense as it gives them the opportunity to investigate and present evidence.

More serious cases oftenautomatically result in a court-martial, but lower level cases may require the specific request from the defendant.

Help Making the Decision

There is no clear cut way to determine when requesting a court-martial makes sense. Anyone accused of wrongdoing has the right to legal counsel, but the military is not required to provide it themselves in many cases. That means that it is up to the individual to seek out legal help themselves.

If you or someone you know is facing legal trouble in the military, contact Garrison Military Law today. Our team has experience with the UCMJ and can help find solutions to difficult situations.

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