Court Martial Defense

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The military has a specialized legal system for military personnel and, occasionally, retired and former military personnel. Others associated with the military (including prisoners of war, military prisoners, and members of quasi-military organizations are also subjected to the military court. Although it bears a striking resemblance to the civilian legal system in the United States, there are some marked differences as well.

Types of Court Martial Cases

Court martial cases vary widely, and it takes a skilled military attorney to mount an effective defense. Our team of military attorneys defends those accused of a variety of issues, including:

High-Profile Media Cases


Sexual Assault/Rape

Other Sex-Related Offenses

DUI and Alcohol-Related Offenses



Assault and Battery

Child-Related Offenses

DNA Evidence

Computer Crimes

Military-Specific Offenses (e.g., AWOL, Dereliction, Conduct Unbecoming)

Reservists Facing UCMJ

Government Fraud

What is a Court Martial?

A “court martial” is a court that conducts military trials. There are three types of courts martial, and each type has unique requirements with regard to who acts as a judge or jury.

Summary Court Martial

A summary court-martial is typically held if you are being charged with a petty, less severe crime. This court process does not require a military judge or an attorney. Rather, the trial is conducted by a commissioned officer. He or she will review the facts of your case, the legal precedent, and the sentencing guidelines.

If you are found guilty in a summary court-martial, you face one or more of the following:

Confinement for up to 30 days

A maximum of 45 days of hard labor

Restriction to a particular area (such as the barracks) for up to 60 days

Pay reduction for one month

Loss of rank

Special Court Martial

The special court-martial is the military equivalent of a trial for a misdemeanor crime in a civilian court. A military judge presides over special courts-martial. If you are prosecuted in a special court-martial, you are assigned a military attorney, but you may hire a private defense attorney. A panel of three service members will decide the case, unless you specifically request for a judge to do so.

If you are convicted of a military crime in a special court-martial, you face:

A maximum of 364 days of confinement

Forfeiture of up to six months pay

Three months of hard labor

Misconduct discharge

General Court Martial

The general court-martial is reserved for the most serious offenses. In a general court-martial, a military judge presides over your case, and you are assigned a military attorney. The trial is held before a panel of at least five court members. However, if you are facing the possibility of death penalty, the trial must be held before a panel of at least 10 court members. As with a special court-martial, you may request that a judge decide the verdict, except in cases where the prosecution seeks the death penalty.

Under a general court-martial, you face the maximum sentence allowed by UCMJ, including:


Life imprisonment

Dishonorable discharge

Why should I hire a private defense attorney for my Court Martial?

Similar to a public defender, a military lawyer that is assigned to your case might have several cases proceeding one time. He or she may not be able to spend the time to become invested in your defense. The attorney that the military appoints to you is a member of the military. He must abide by certain rules when defending you that a private attorney does not have to follow. In addition it often is the case that the military lawyer that is assigned to defend you will have difficulty taking strong positions on your behalf for fear of reprisal from his superiors. However, a skilled private attorney will work to protect your interests, and get you the best possible result in your case.

Why Should I Hire The Carlson Law Firm

At The Carlson Law Firm, we have been protecting the rights of service members for over 40 years. We are a veteran-owned and veteran-operated firm that is headquartered in Central Texas, outside of Fort Hood. Many of our firm partners and associates are former JAG Officers, and have extensive knowledge of the Military Criminal Justice System.

At The Carlson Law Firm you won’t just be another number on a file, we put our clients before ourselves and promise you will receive signature customer service.

Contact The Carlson Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation. We care, we can help.

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