Military Law Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Military Law?

(n) Military law is the law, rules and regulations that governs military personnel’s in barracks and special regulations and orders issued to military staff in actions, military operations or such other situations.

History and Meaning of Military Law

Military law can be traced back to ancient times when armies were formed to defend territories and fight conflicts. It encompasses the laws, regulations, and judicial proceedings that govern military personnel's behavior, actions and conduct on and off duty. However, it differs from civilian law as military personnel are subject to a different set of rules and regulations while serving in the military. Military law also includes legal provisions that apply to civilians who work or reside at a military base or facility.

Military law is governed by several acts, including the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which is the bedrock of military law in the United States, and the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM), which outlines the procedures for conducting military trials. Military law is enforced by the military police or military court system.

Examples of Military Law

  1. A soldier being court-martialed for disobeying a direct order from a superior officer.
  2. A Marine Corps veteran charged with military desertion after failing to report back to his unit.
  3. A civilian contractor at a military base being prosecuted under military law for assaulting a fellow employee.
  4. An army officer being charged with adultery under the UCMJ.
  5. A member of the National Guard being investigated in relation to military benefits fraud.

Legal Terms Similar to Military Law

  1. Uniform Code of Military Justice: This is the main legal code governing military law in the United States.
  2. Court-martial: A military court where serious offenses are tried.
  3. Geneva Conventions: International agreements that dictate the humane treatment of prisoners of war and civilians affected by armed conflict.
  4. Military Tribunal: A military court that is convened to hear cases related to military law.
  5. Military Justice System: The system of laws and procedures used to enforce military law.