Court-Martial Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Court-Martial, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Court-Martial?

1)A court that decides upon crimes commited by military officers under army, navy or air force.It conducts all the proceddings from finding the cause of crime to declaring the verdict.A genearl court marial is conducted by the Judge Advocate who is a military legal officer along with minmum five officers for major crimes for which maximum punishment upto death penalty can be given.A special court mrtial is conducted by at least three officers for which dismissal, lengthy detention, or any kind of hard work be given.For minor crimes summary court martial can be conducted by a single officer. 2)To accuse a military officer for charges of crime or violation of his duties as set aside in the military law.

History and Meaning of Court-Martial

A court-martial is a judicial proceeding conducted by military authorities to try members of the armed forces who have been accused of violating military law. This type of court stems back to the Middle Ages, where soldiers were subject to a separate justice system under the King’s military law. The term itself is derived from the French words “cour martiale,” which mean “martial court.”

The court-martial system in the United States is authorized by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which establishes the procedures and rules for military courts. The UCMJ was enacted by Congress in 1950 and replaced earlier versions of military law dating back to the Revolutionary War. The UCMJ was designed to provide a uniform system of justice for all branches of the military.

Examples of Court-Martial

  1. A military officer is charged with desertion and is brought before a general court-martial.
  2. A soldier is accused of theft and is tried in a special court-martial.
  3. An airman is charged with sexual assault and is tried in a general court-martial.
  4. A sailor is accused of disobeying orders and is tried in a summary court-martial.

Legal Terms Similar to Court-Martial

  1. Military Tribunal – a type of military court that is not bound by the requirements of the UCMJ and can be used to try both military and civilian defendants.
  2. Courts of Inquiry – an administrative hearing used to investigate incidents or events involving members of the military.
  3. Board of Inquiry – a type of administrative board that investigates incidents or events, but does not have the power to render punishment or impose sanctions.