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What is the Uniform Code of Military Justice?

On Behalf of | Oct 6, 2021 | Military Law

If you work in the military, you should be aware of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or UCMJ. This act is one that governs the military justice system.

With this act, the President is allowed to decide on the procedures and rules to be implemented through the UCMJ. They are given this power through the Manual for Courts-Martial.

How does the Uniform Code of Military Justice vary from the civilian justice system?

The UCMJ varies from the civilian justice system because it does not require indictment by a grand jury. Additionally, the jury in a case may be made up of a person’s peers, but those peers will all be members of the military. In a civilian court, there need to be 12 members of the jury. In a military court, the number of people on the panel may vary – there are 4 panel members for a special court martial, 8 for a noncapital general court martial, and 12 if there is possibility for the death penalty.

In the court-marital system, you will also find that there are different kinds of court-martials that apply to military members but not civilians. There are three main types:

  • Summary court martials
  • Special court martials
  • General court martials

Summary court martials are used for minor offenses, while special are for misdemeanors and general are for the most severe cases.

The UCMJ also varies in how it allows appeals. In a civilian court, you can ask the court to hear your appeal. You start at the circuit court and move up the line until you reach the Supreme Court.

In the military, the system is different. The branch of the military with the case handles its own appeals. In the military, an appeal is automatic if the military member will receive a severe punishment, but the appeal is not automatic in a civilian case.

You deserve a chance to defend yourself

The differences in these systems may not seem very significant, but they could have an impact on how your case is handled. It’s smart to know your rights and to take a stand to defend yourself if you are facing a court martial or other issue in court. You deserve a chance to defend yourself and to protect your career.