Directly from the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ):

816. ART. 16. COURT-MARTIAL CLASSIFIED

The three kinds of courts-martial in each of the armed forces are--
(1) general courts-martial, consisting of--
(A) a military judge and not less than five members; or
(B) only a military judge, if before the court is assembled the accused, knowing the identity of the military judge and after consultation with defense counsel, requests orally on the record or in writing a court composed only of a military judge and the military judge approves;
(2) special courts-martial, consisting of--
(A) not less than three members; or
(B) a military judge and not less than three members; or
(C) only a military judge, if one has been detailed to the court, and the accused under the same conditions as those prescribed in clause (1)(B) so requests; and
(3) summary courts-martial, consisting of one commissioned officer.

817. ART. 17. JURISDICTION OF COURTS-MARTIAL IN GENERAL

(a) Each armed force has court-martial jurisdiction over all persons subject to this chapter. The exercise of jurisdiction by one armed force over personnel of another armed force shall be in accordance with regulations prescribed by the President.
(b) In all cases, departmental review after that by the officer with authority to convene a general court-martial for the command which held the trial, where that review is required under this chapter, shall be carried out by the department that includes the armed force of which the accused is a member.

818. ART. 18. JURISDICTION OF GENERAL COURTS-MARTIAL

Subject to section 817 of this title (article 17), general courts-martial have jurisdiction to try persons subject to this chapter for any offense made punishable by this chapter and may, under such limitations as the President may prescribe, adjudge any punishment not forbidden by this chapter, including the penalty of death when specifically authorized by this chapter. General courts-martial also have jurisdiction to try any person who by the law of war is subject to trial by a military tribunal and may adjudge any punishment permitted by the law of war. However, a general court-martial of the kind specified in section 816(1)(B) of this title (article 16(1)(B)) shall not have jurisdiction to try any person for any offense for which the death penalty may be adjudged unless the case has been previously referred to trial as noncapital case.

ART. 19. JURISDICTION OF SPECIAL COURTS-MARTIAL

Subject to section 817 of this title (article 17), special courts-martial have jurisdiction to try persons subject to this chapter for any noncapital offense made punishable by this chapter and, under such regulations as the President may prescribe, for capital offenses. Special courts-martial may, under such limitations as the President may prescribe, adjudge any punishment not forbidden by this chapter except death, dishonorable discharge, dismissal, confinement for more than six months, hard labor without confinement for more than three months, forfeiture of pay exceeding two-thirds pay per month, or forfeiture of pay for more than six months. A bad-conduct discharge may not be adjudged unless a complete record of the proceedings and testimony has been made, counsel having the qualifications prescribed under section 827(b) of this title (article 27(b)) was detailed to represent the accused, and a military judge was detailed to the trial, except in any case in which a military judge could not be detailed to the trial, the convening authority shall make a detailed written statement, to be appended to the record, stating the reason or reasons a military judge could not be detailed.

820 ART. 20. JURISDICTION OF SUMMARY COURTS-MARTIAL

Subject to section 817 of this title (article 17), summary courts-martial have jurisdiction to try persons subject to this chapter, except officers, cadets, aviation cadets, and midshipman, for any noncapital offense made punishable by this chapter. No person with respect to whom summary courts- martial have jurisdiction may be brought to trial before a summary court- martial if he objects thereto. If objection to trial by summary court- martial is made by an accused, trial may be ordered by special or general court-martial as may be appropriate. Summary courts-martial may, under such limitations as the President may prescribe, adjudge any punishment not forbidden by this chapter except death, dismissal, dishonorable or bad- conduct discharge, confinement for more than one month, hard labor without confinement for more than 45 days, restrictions to specified limits for more than two months, or forfeiture of more than two-thirds of one month's pay.

821. ART. 21. JURISDICTION OF COURTS-MARTIAL NOT EXCLUSIVE

The provisions of this chapter conferring jurisdiction upon courts- martial do not deprive military commissions, provost courts, or other military tribunals of concurrent jurisdiction with respect to offenders or offenses that by statute or by the law of war may be tried by military commissions, provost courts, or other military tribunals.

A court-martial is a military court which hears and judges legal charges brought against people in the armed forces.

Until the 16th century, soldiers had no rights, and were subject entirely to their commanders. In 1689, the first real military judicial process was enacted with the British Mutiny Act, which provided for legal discipline of a standing army. Most countries (Germany being an important exception, using only civilian courts) now have separate military codes of justice, administered by separate military courts, though (usually) subject to civilian appeal and review.

There are two main types of courts-martial, general and special. Only a high ranking commander, general, or flag officer may convene a general court-martial. A special court-martial may be initiated by a brigade or regiment officer. A general court-martial may impose any penalty, whereas a special court-martial may impose only short term confinement and/or dishonorable discharge.

The officer convening the court-martial chooses officers from his command to sit as judges.

researched from the 1969 Encyclopedia Britannica

Court`-mar"tial (k?rt`m?r"shal), n.; pl. Courts-martial (krts`-).

A court consisting of military or naval officers, for the trial of one belonging to the army or navy, or of offenses against military or naval law.

 

© Webster 1913.


Court`-mar"tial, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Court-martialed (-shald); p. pr. & vb. n. Court-martialing.]

To subject to trial by a court-martial.

 

© Webster 1913.

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