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

Air Force Court Reverses Military Judge’s Dismissal of Sexual Assault Charge

By William Cassara | September 3, 2020

In January 2016, Senior Airman Harrington was at a party with several individuals. SSgt FC, LB, and TSgt KW were at the party as well. The group played several drinking games, including an “adult” version of Jenga. The game required individuals to perform tasks, such as removing articles of clothing […]

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Navy Criminal Appeals

Navy-Marine Corps Court Affirms Assault Conviction for HIV Positive Marine

By Beth Harvey | August 20, 2020

NMCCA issued an opinion in the case of US v Lewis this week. Sgt Lewis was convicted of three specifications of failure to obey a lawful order, one specification of sexual assault by causing bodily harm, one specification of indecent viewing, and one specification of assault consummated by a battery. […]

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caaf army

Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces Limits the Use of Prior Statements at Trial

By William Cassara | July 14, 2020

Military rules of evidence generally do not allow hearsay statements to be admitted at trial. Hearsay statements are statements made outside of court that are offered as proof of the substance of that statement. There are several exceptions to the hearsay rule, such as statements included in regular business records. […]

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