What is the Court-Martial Process?

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When a person is facing court-martial in the military, they should understand that the resources and weight of the United States government is being focused against them in order to achieve conviction and punishment, which most often includes confinement and discharge. In the military, unlike in the civilian system, the military will roll right into a sentencing proceeding if there had been any finding of guilt.

When a person is facing the process of a court-martial, they should understand that if it’s a general court-martial, there’ll be that preliminary hearing known as the Article 32. Otherwise, you will proceed to motions if your counsel has any. A motion is a request to the military judge for some favorable relief in your case, whether that means excluding certain evidence or asking for other favorable relief.

After motions have been settled, you’ll launch into what you would most typically see in a civilian trial, which includes the convening of the court, and if you have opted to have military members sit in judgment of you, you’ll go through that voir dire process where members are questioned about any potential biases that they have.

Once the court is convened, you move into opening statements and the government’s presentation of evidence. If there is a defense case, the defense case would then proceed after the government’s case. After each side has rested and there is no more rebuttal or surrebuttal on either part, you’ll move into instructions. Afterwards, closing arguments, deliberation by either the panel or the military judge, and announcement of the findings.

For questions about courts-martial, contact the Law Office of Jocelyn C. Stewart at 1-888-252-0927.

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