Courts-martial are the military’s courts that are used when a military crime is committed, or often when a service member commits any other type of crime, as most any civilian crime will also break military regulations and law. In these situations, a court martial defense lawyer is used instead of a normal civil lawyer because they have specific knowledge and experience in military courts-martial and with military law. There are even different levels and types of court-martial, and a military defense lawyer would know this and how to act to defend their client in each one.
The most common type of court-martial is also the lowest level, as they deal with the least severe crimes. This type is called a summary court-martial, and doesn’t usually require or include a court martial defense lawyer, though they can advise at any level. IN these a single commissioned officer will act as the prosecutor and judge as well as jury, investigating the information he has and making the decision on whether the accused is guilty, and what sentences they should receive.
The next level up, which deals with crimes that would otherwise be considered misdemeanors, is called a special court. A military defense lawyer would be more common to find in these types of cases, as there is more at stake, and more chance for a court martial defense lawyer to actually assist. These courts are run by a military judge, and will have a panel or jury of at least three enlisted service members to make the decision. An interesting fact is that an accused can ask for a military judge to make the decision himself instead of having a panel of other enlisted members.
The most serious crimes, from robbery to arson and up are dealt with in what is called a general court-martial. These would be the most common place to find a court martial defense lawyer as they most reflect a civilian court and offer the most opportunity for a lawyer to assist and defend their clients in court. This is similar to a special court-martial except that the panel of enlisted members is made up of five members rather than three, although again the accused can ask for the decision to be made by the military judge alone and dismiss the panel.
If you are wondering if you should hire a lawyer, it will depend on your case. May lawyers will offer consultations, so if you are unsure, you might decide to talk to one, describe your upcoming case and let them help you decide what will be needed.
John Trinh has been writing for 10+ years. He first delved into the world of writing when he wrote his first article for his university's paper. Since then, John has enjoyed writing about technology, business, marketing, and anything that he thinks he should write about.
for more information: Newsom & Gapasin, Attorneys at Law