The Truth About Military Justice

daphne-military-dressBy Daphne Pattison Silverman
Former Navy Jag

Just because you volunteered to serve your country, including giving your life if necessary, doesn’t mean your country won’t prosecute you.  It will, and on occasion it will do so unjustly.   The good news is that just because you are in the military does not meant that you lose the right to defend yourself.  In fact, you have extensive rights to counsel and procedural due process preserved by years of military justice history.   Click on each item to learn more about your rights.

  1. Right to Counsel- Exercise all of your rights including your right to hire civilian counsel
  2. Charging Authority- The biggest difference between civilian and military prosecutions
  3. Forum- Do not delay in hiring counsel.  Hire counsel in time to participate in forum selection.
  4. Article 32 Hearing – Again, do not delay, Hire counsel in time to participate in the Article 32
  5. Nonjudicial punishment (NJP)/ Article 15/ Captain’s Mast – The Commanding Officer’s show regardless of the name you give it, but this is not necessarily bad.
  6. Summary Court-Martial-  This court-martial is nothing in the civilian world which means your civilian record is clear!!
  7. Special Court- Martial – military equivalent to a misdemeanor court
  8. General Court -Martial – military equivalent to a felony court

In conclusion, the most important thing to do when charged with any crime is to seek competent legal counsel to investigate the facts, research the law and effectively defend the charges lodged.


This post is also available in: Spanish