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What is a Summary Court-Martial?

Trial by summary court-martial provides a simplified procedure for the resolution of charges involving minor incidents of misconduct. The summary court-martial consists of one officer who is not required to be an attorney or judge. It is frequently a line officer from within the command. The maximum punishment a summary court-martial may impose is considerably less than a special or general court-martial. The accused must consent to be tried by a summary court-martial, and the service member can request trial by a “regular” court-martial. Of particular importance is the fact that conviction by Summary Court-Martial does not count as a “conviction” in the civilian world.