Courts Martial

If you are serving HM Forces personnel, you will be well aware that military offences are investigated through a court martial system. This means that military criminal justice is slightly different to civilian justice and, if you find yourself facing a court martial, you should make sure you have specialist legal advice to assist you – our military team includes specialist court martial lawyers.

A court martial can apply to any member of the armed forces – not only the regular army, navy and air force across all branches, but territorial and reserve forces as well.

If you are subject to an RMP or SIB investigation then you are entitled to have one of our lawyers attend the interview with you. This applies where ever in the world you are being interviewed and the service is completely FREE of charge to you. Our lawyers regularly interviews abroad.

Call our MILITARY INTERVIEW HOTLINE on 07591241460.

When do court martial apply?

A court martial is generally convened when an individual who is a member of the armed forces commits an offence that cannot be dealt with by their commanding officer. This essentially means that if you commit an offence against military law, you could have to appear before a court martial.

Different types of court martial

It is important to note that there are several different types of courts martial, and they can also differ slightly between the armed services as each service has a slightly different method of operation. However, they all work according to similar principles.

District Court Martial: this type of court martial is often used for offences that are considered to be ‘lesser’ and they are usually administrated by at least three officers. In terms of discipline, they can imprison those found guilty for up to two years.

General Court Martial: this is typically overseen by five officers and deals with all of the serious offences, as well as all offences that are committed by military officers.

How does a court martial work?

The court hearing is broadly similar to a civilian trial by jury: the defendant is required to enter a plea before a judge and the case is then considered by the judge and a panel of lay members (between three and seven of them, depending how severe the offence).

The lay members effectively play the role of the jury and so have a big responsibility in terms of the outcome of the case. They must consider the evidence that is presented to them and make an impartial decision based on it – the judge isn’t responsible for their decision.

The role of the judge is to oversee procedure and make sure the correct practices are followed. In the event of a guilty finding, the judge also advises the lay members of the court martial on the various legal sentencing options that are open to them. This is one of the main ways courts martial differ from civilian juries, as they have a vital role to play in sentencing the defendant.

What should I do if I’m subject to a court martial?

If you are accused of a military offence which could lead on to courts martial, make sure you get legal advice from a solicitor with plenty of experience of courts martial work – and do not attend any military police interviews [SIB or RMP] without your specialist military lawyer present.

You can choose your own lawyer to represent you at court martial ; someone with extensive experience in military police interviews and courts martial is essential however. This is important, especially as a military police investigation will be carried out prior to the trial and you may be asked for information – and also because even the procedure of the military police interview is different from interview run by the civilian police – and being  interviewed by the RMP or SIB is even governed by a different set of rules.

Our specialist courts martial lawyer will be able to give you the best possible chance of defending yourself in the event of being called before a court martial.

Contact one of our Court Martial Lawyers today

Our Armed Forces team have the expertise you need.

  • Call them directly today on [01980] 622992 or free on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 for FREE initial phone advice or
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