What is a General Court Martial?

A general court-martial is the most serious level of military courts. It consists of a military judge, trial counsel, defense counsel, and at least five court members. In capitol cases, there must be at least twelve members on the court. Again, an enlisted accused may request a court composed of at least one-third enlisted personnel. Unless the case is one in which the death sentence could be adjudged, an officer or enlisted accused may also request trial by judge alone.

In a general court-martial, the maximum punishment is that established for each offense under the Manual for Courts-Martial, and may include death (for certain offenses), confinement, a dishonorable or bad-conduct discharge for enlisted personnel, a dismissal for officers, or a number of other lesser forms of punishment.

A pretrial investigation under Article 32, UCMJ, must be conducted before a case may be referred to a general court-martial, unless waived by the accused. The Article 32 Investigation is the military equivalent of the preliminary hearing or grand jury in the civilian sector.

William E. Cassara- Military Law Attorney

Recent Accomplishments

Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces Reverses Navy-Marine Corps Court on Hazing Case

By William Cassara | May 14, 2021

The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) recently published its opinion in United States v. Mader reversing a Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals decision in a case involving an NCO’s charged hazing of junior Marines. A Sergeant with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines was executing orders out of […]

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air force drug conviction

CAAF Reverses Army Court on Hearsay Ruling

By William Cassara | April 30, 2021

In June 2020, the Army Court of Criminal Appeals issued an opinion in United States v. Henry affirming the military judge’s decision to exclude four hearsay statements made by the alleged victim and her son. We discussed that opinion here. The government appealed the Army Court decision to the Court […]

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William E. Cassara, Military Law Attorney

Army Court Reverses Conviction – ACCA Opinion U.S. v. Hannah

By William Cassara | April 24, 2021

We are thrilled to report that the Army Court of Criminal Appeals set aside and dismissed our client’s convictions for two specifications of sexual assault.  We argued that the military judge improperly created the appearance of bias in favor of the government because of her inappropriate conduct toward our client’s […]

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