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12 Facts about Summary Court-Martial

Written by: Federal Practice Group
Written by: Federal Practice Group

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For the military justice system, there are three levels of court-martial. Summary court-martials are considered the lowest level of court-martial accessible. This type of court martial is created to resolve minor offenses through a simple procedure and in a timely manner. Below are 12 quick facts to help you understand what a court-martial is and what you can expect if your case is sent to a summary court-martial.

  1. A Court-Martial Convening Authority, often referred to as a CMCA, has the power and will decide whether your case is sent to a court-martial.
  2. A Summary Court-Martial Convening Authority, often referred to as a SCMCA, will convene a summary court-martial.
  3. When a case is sent to summary-court martial, a summary court-martial officer will be assigned.
  4. A summary court-martial decides whether a person is guilty and what kind of sentence that person will receive.
  5. The maximum punishments of a summary court-martial depends on the ranking of the military service member.
  6. If your case is sent to a summary-court martial, you are permitted to hire a civilian attorney, before the trial, to represent you with no cost to the government.
  7. Before a summary-court martial case, you are permitted the right to object trial by summary court-martial. If you do object trial by summary court-martial, your case will more than likely be send to a higher court-martial.
  8. You are permitted to know who will be present as government witnesses before the trial.
  9. Before a summary court-martial, you are allowed to know what the maximum sentence possible can be for your case.
  10. You are allowed to understand the charges, the name of the person who accused you, the name of the SCMCA, as well as the date of when the accusation was submitted.
  11. Many times, a service member faced with a summary court-martial will reject representation by a military defense lawyer since the charge will automatically be considered a criminal charge.
  12. The punishment for a person found guilty on a summary court-martial may consist of reduction in military rank, imprisonment for up to 30 days, forfeiture of monthly pay, and restriction or increase of duty.

In addition to the facts listed above, there are other fine details regarding summary court-martial expectations and parameters. For this reason, it is important to speak with a seasoned military criminal defense lawyer to understand your case’s specifics.


If you are a service member of any military branch and need representation for a military court martial, is important to seek an experienced military criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The military criminal defense lawyers at The Federal Practice Group understand the various complexities that come along with court-martials and seek to represent their clients with top-tier knowledge. We bring an aggressive and skilled team to your side and fight to protect your rights.

If you are dealing with a court-martial, contact The Federal Practice Group today!

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