Special Court-Martial. A Special Court-Martial is the intermediate level Court- Martial between Summary Court-Martial and General Court-Martial. A Special Court-Martial conviction is often compared to a misdemeanor conviction in the civilian legal system. Most commonly, a Special Court- Martial will consist of a military judge, trial counsel (aka: “prosecutor”), defense counsel, and a minimum of three officers sitting as a panel of court members or the “jury.” An enlisted accused may request a court composed of at least one-third enlisted members on the jury. Unlike civilian criminal trials which require a unanimous decision, only two-thirds of the members of a Court Martial need to agree as to the guilt of the accused for the accused to be found guilty: otherwise, the accused must be acquitted. In other words, there is no such thing as a “hung jury” in a Court-Martial. The accused, may also request trial by judge alone.
Unlike civilian criminal courts, if you are found guilty by a jury at a Special Court-Martial, the jury will also decide your punishment. At least two-thirds of the members must agree on the punishment to be imposed.
A Special Court Martial may impose any punishment authorized under Rules for Courts-Martial R.C.M.1003. The maximum punishment that could be awarded at Special Courts-Martial is a Bad Conduct Discharge, confinement up to 1 year, hard labor without confinement up to 3 months, two-thirds forfeiture of pay per month for up to 1 year, and enlisted members may be reduced to the lowest enlisted pay grade. Officers cannot be reduced in rank or receive a punitive discharge at a Special Court-Martial.
At a Special Court-Martial the accused has the right to be represented by a detailed military defense counsel, an individual military defense counsel (IMC) of their own choosing, if the IMC is deemed available by the IMC’s command, and the right to be represented by a civilian defense counsel of the accused own choosing and expense.
Facing a Special Court-Martial,
Seek a Civilian Military Lawyer Immediately
If you, as the accused, are facing a Special Court-Martial, it would be in your best interest to find and retain the best Civilian Military Lawyer you can find to ensure that you are represented by experienced and seasoned defense counsel which is not always available nor possible if you settle for appointed counsel. Generally speaking, the more experienced the legal representation the better the outcome. As in any legal contest, being represented by younger, less-experienced counsel might result in your being unnecessarily convicted, or receiving a far harsher penalty than you would have with experienced, aggressive, and respected heavy-weight counsel. Military Law Center will aggressively advise and defend you – Know Your Military Legal Rights.