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Military Justice Center

Court-martial FAQs

Court-martial is an integral component of military law. There are three types of court-martial a military officer can receive: general, special and summary. 

If you or someone you know in the military ever faces a court-martial, it is natural to have a lot of questions about what could happen. Here are some common questions people end up with as well as basic information that can help you sort out fact from fiction. 

"What should I do when facing a court-martial and receiving questions from a member of command?"

It is vital to remember that you always have a right to remain silent. Many military officers may forego this right because they believe that it will make them look guilty. However, if you choose to talk with a member of your command without an attorney present, then you may inadvertently say something that harms you down the road. The court can misconstrue such statements, and you may do irreversible harm to your case. Stay silent and wait until you have a chance to talk to your lawyer. 

"Should I seek legal counsel if the military has not charged me yet but could?"

It is never a bad idea to obtain legal representation just in case you think that you will need it soon. You will have a lot of questions about what will happen next and what you should and should not do. You should not wait until the court-martial is in process. The sooner you get help, the better. 

"What can I do to aid in my defense?"

The best thing you can do at the moment is to speak with witnesses to the incident. You should provide their full name, contact information and military rank to your legal counsel. Your attorney will be able to follow up with these individuals later to determine if there is anything in their statements that can help you. 

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