Proper Way to Defend a Court-Martial Appeal

When members of the armed forces break the law, they appear before a court called court-martial. This military court tries the defaulting military personnel and passes a verdict. There are several types of court-martial. They are general, summary, and special court-martial. 

Now, with all this divergence, all these courts have one thing in common. The common ground they have is that an appeal can waver the decision. At this point, to make a proper appeal, court-martial attorneys come into the picture. Without further ado, let’s look deeper into court-martial appeals.

Summary Court-Martial Appeal

If an armed service member receives a charge of an Article 15 crime, they are eligible to appeal. But, this is not an automatic appeal process. Unlike the general and special court-martials, the offender has to file for an appeal. 

Court-martial cases are not to be taken lightly, especially since you are defending yourself against the government. You can easily lose your case or your appeal if you don’t have a good lawyer to represent you. At this point, the smartest choice is to rely on the experience of qualified court martial attorneys to get a favorable outcome.

After the appeal process, a judge reviews and examines the case. This step is to reaffirm that the legal facts are correct. Once this research is complete, the court could make several decisions. For example, they could decide to stick with the initial verdict, reduce the penalty or reverse it. 

The General and Specific Court-Martial Appeal

The general and specific court-martial are similar in the appeal process. Yet, these courts act differently from a summary court-martial. The difference is that the offender does not need to file an appeal. 

Now, the delegated authorities review the case after the sentence from the court. They review the legal findings and reach a final verdict. They could either reduce the sentence, annul it or remain with the court’s first decision. Now, no matter the legal findings, the constituted authorities cannot increase the penalty.

If the offender is not satisfied with the results of the appeal, other channels exist to follow. The convicted felon can appeal to other courts. They are:

  1. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals
  2. Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals
  3. Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals
  4. Army Court of Criminal Appeals

Any of the above courts can look into the case if the offender has:

  • Duty discharge due to bad conduct 
  • A death sentence
  • A dishonorable discharge
  • Imprisonment of 1 year and above

But, if there is any other sentence from the above listed, the various courts may choose to accept the appeal or not. If there is a refusal, the defendant can plead with the judge advocate general to issue the case review.

What Warrants a Bad Conduct Discharge?

A Bad Conduct Discharge (BCD) is also known as the “Big Chicken Dinner,” following the initials BCD. Here, the armed forces personnel can receive this punishment from a court-martial. This could be from a general or specific court-martial. 

Now, the general court-martial levels crimes as a felony, the same as civilians. But, special court-martial handles the more significant grievous offenses.

A BCD often follows after a season of imprisonment. Also, there is no specific list of the actions that lead to a discharge of bad conduct. This is because the court-martial screens a lot of legal findings and pieces of evidence.

Now, the special court-martial can pass the severest punishment. This punishment includes imprisonment, forfeiting pay, and decreasing in ranks. In a national offense, the case is opened to the public and included as part of the public records. Note that a BCD does not equal a felony. A BCD results from actions taken, while a felony is a crime.

Comparison Between Dishonorable Discharge and Bad Conduct Discharge

A Dishonorable Discharge and a BCD are different forms of dismissal methods. They sound similar, but either way, they are both vindictive. A dishonorable discharge is much more severe than a BCD. It is like a civilian charged with a felony. 

A general court-martial has the authority to issue the sentence of a DD. But in BCD, the general or special court-martial has the jurisdiction to penalize. Either way, having any of these discharge sentences can make it challenging to secure a job in the future. They also relinquish military benefits and face possible rank reduction. 

The Need for Clemency

If an offender has a sentence from a criminal court, he can request clemency. Then, the constituted authorities receive this request for mercy from the defendant. The clemency board and parole can also receive this plea. 

UCMJ Attorney

These peculiar attorneys have the following qualifications;

  • Niche: Military Criminal Defense
  • Location: Global (English Speakers)

If a defendant faces a court-martial, there is a need to seek legal guidance. Court-martial attorneys have a wealth of experience battling remarkable accusations of many military personnel. They can mitigate military penalties and punishment, which can be severe and harsh. 

Good court martial lawyers are exceptional lawyers with experience in lawsuits who provide a sure defense. It does not matter your location. You can find and approach the nearest court martial lawyer to help you with your case.

Trial Rights

When a lawsuit ends in a trial, the accused have many trial rights. They include the right to:

  • Give testimony 
  • Have a military and civil defense advocate
  • Remain silent 
  • Have a trial by a military judge or jury
  • Obtain access to relevant information available to the government counsel
  • Ask for permission to produce evidence and witnesses

Trial Rights of Counsel

An offender has the right to military defense counsel for free. Also, the defendant can get the services of civilian counsel. But, this civilian advocate must receive payment.

Trial Right to Witness Confrontation

The accused has a right to cross-examine any witness produced in a trial. But, it doesn’t mean the defendant will stand up in court and make his claims. It must be well-structured and planned with the help of legal counsel.

The Trial Right of Testimony

Convicted military personnel have the right to testify in court. Here, they recount the event from their perspective. Yet, they need a court-martial lawyer to give a constructed testimony.


A court-martial lawyer is a legal advocate that can defend military personnel. These seasoned attorneys will provide the military defense needed when under a court-martial. There are also trail rights to an offender. They include rights to counsel, testify, the right to confront witnesses, and the like.

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