Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)

The following information was obtained from the 2012 Officer Candidates School Student Outline.

TERMINAL LEARNING OBJECTIVES

1. Without the aid of references, describe Article 15, Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP) without omitting key components. (MCCS-UCMJ-1001)
2. Without the aid of references, describe the military justice system without omitting key components. (MCCS- UCMJ-1004)
3. Without the aid of references, describe types of courts-martial without omission. (MCCS-UCMJ-1008)

ENABLING LEARNING OBJECTIVES

1. Without the aid of references, state the purpose of NJP without omission. (MCCS-UCMJ-100 la)
2. Without the aid of references, define the rights of the accused in NJP without omission. (MCCS-UCMJ-lOOlb)
3. Without the aid of reference, define the purpose of the military justice system without error. (MCCS-UCMJ – 1004a)
4. Without the aid of reference, define the personnel subject to the military justice system without error. (MCCS- UCMJ-1004b)
5. Without the aid of reference, define the individual’s responsibility in the military justice system without error. (MCCS-UCMJ-1004c)
6. Without the aid of references, describe a Summary Court Martial without omitting key components. (MCCS- UCMJ-1008a)
7. Without the aid of references, describe a Special Court Martial without omitting key components. (MCCS- UCMJ-1008b)
8. Without the aid of references, describe a General Court Martial without omitting key components. (MCCS- UCMJ-1008c)

1. NATURE AND PURPOSE OF MILITARY LAW

As you enter a new society, you will be subject to a different legal system. While the aims are similar to the civilian justice system, the military justice system was created by Congress to provide for the unique demands of military society. Specifically to:

a. Promote Justice. The military law and specifically the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), provides the Commander with a means to ensure adequate and fair justice is awarded all of its members.

b. Maintain Good Order and Discipline. The UCMJ ensures that all service members are protected by the same rules and regulations to prevent unjust actions from being taken against those same members. This ensures that all members conduct themselves in accordance with the same rules and regulations, and that those service members continue to act as professionals in all matters.

c. Promote Efficiency and Effectiveness. The UCMJ ensures that adjudication is implemented in an expedient manner by enforcing a speedy trial. It allows the military force uninterrupted operations, is designed not to be a burden on a commander, and is capable of being administered in many environments worldwide.

d. Strengthen National Security. The UCMJ ensures that the military services operate under the same rules and regulations and strengthens the organization, therefore strengthening the capabilities of the nation.

e. It is the Commander’s responsibility to deal with infractions of military custom or law. The Commander has a full range of responses, ranging from verbal or written counseling, and progressing through punitive measures up to and including enforcement of the death penally for certain infractions.

2. PERSONNEL SUBJECT TO THE UCMJ

The Manual for Courts-Martial lists the categories of personnel that the UCMJ applies to:

a. Active Duty. All active duty military personnel are subject to the UCMJ.

b. Cadets, aviation cadets, midshipmen, and candidates are subject to the UCMJ.

c. Military Retirees. Certain retired military members while still receiving pay are subject to the UCMJ.

d. Reservists. Reservists are also subject to the UCMJ, but ONLY while in an active duty status.

e. Enemy Prisoners of War. EPWs in the custody of American armed forces are subject to the UCMJ.

f. Prisoners. Persons in custody of the armed forces serving a sentence imposed by courts-martial, even if discharged from the military, are still subject to the UCMJ.

g. Civilians.

(1) Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Members of the Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration become subject to the code when assigned to and serving with the armed forces.(2) Civilians Serving with the Military in Time of War. Court-martial jurisdiction over civilians under the code is limited by judicial decisions. Before initiating court-martial proceedings against a civilian, relevant statutes and decisions should be carefully examined.

3. RIGHTS OF THE ACCUSED

Article 31 of the UCMJ acts somewhat like Miranda Rights in the civilian system.

a. Self Incrimination. Article 31 provides the accused protection from self-incrimination and coercion to self- incriminate.

b. During Questioning/Interrogation. Article 31 (b) is similar to, and was the basis for, the Miranda warning (Miranda v. Arizona, 1966), but offers additional protection. Article 31(b) rights were designed to protect against the possibility of coercion in a military senior/subordinate relationship that could occur in an interrogation setting.

(1) Article 31 (b) rights provide the accused with the right to know the offense suspected of BEFORE questioning ever begins. This is an important difference from the Miranda Rights, which offer no such guarantee.(2) Article 31(b) rights provide the accused protection against being coerced into making a statement. The suspect’s statement must be voluntary.

(3) Article 31(b) makes it known that any statement made by the accused after being informed of their rights can be used as evidence in a trial by court-martial.

c. Article 31(c) protects the accused from being compelled to make statements or produce evidence in a court- martial that is immaterial to the case and may degrade the accused.

d. Article 31(d) provides that statements obtained in violation of Article 31 or through the use of coercion, unlawful influence, or unlawful inducement may not be used as evidence in a court martial.

4. REPORTING AN OFFENSE

a. Anyone can report an offense, whether they are military personnel or civilian. If a civilian reports an offense, it will be treated equally as if reported by military personnel, and investigated appropriately.

b. Any military authority may receive a report of an offense. Typically, offenses are reported to military law enforcement personnel, investigative personnel, or directly to the suspect’s chain of command.

c. Depending on the nature of the violation (serious offenses may be retained for further investigation by law enforcement), a report of an offense should be forwarded as soon as is practicable to the suspect’s chain of command.

5. AUTHORIZED PUNISHMENTS UNDER THE UCMJ

Subject to the limitations in the UCMJ, a conviction of violation of the UCMJ could result in any of the following punishments:

a. Reprimand. A severe form of oral or written censure entered into a Marine’s service record book or qualification record. This generally ends a career or seriously delays promotion.

b. Forfeiture of Pay and Allowances. Deprives the accused of money to be earned in future paychecks.

c. Fine. Money liable by the accused for unjust enrichment as a result of the offense convicted, for example larceny.

d. Reduction in Grade. A court-martial may sentence an enlisted member to be reduced to the lowest or any intermediate pay grade.

e. Restriction to Specific Limits. Deprives the accused of normal liberty privileges.

f. Hard Labor without Confinement. Strenuous work performed in addition to one’s regular duties.

g. Confinement. Physical restraint that provides for assignment of quarters at a brig or military prison.

h. Punitive Discharge. Discharge from the service under one of the following conditions: dismissal (officers only), dishonorable discharge, or bad conduct discharge.

i. Death. The United States Armed Forces execute a sentence of death by lethal injection.

j. Confinement on Bread And Water. Assignment to a ship’s brig on reduced rations (only authorized while on ship).

k. Arrest in Quarters. Applies to officers only; essentially house arrest, the officer equivalent to restriction.

l. Extra Duty. Marine is assigned additional duties to carry out after normal working hours. These duties may consist of any number of menial tasks, but cannot be degrading in nature.

m. Correctional Custody Unit (CCU). This is not confinement! It is used for good Marines who have gotten off track and could probably continue to serve the military well if re-motivated. It is like going back to boot camp. A company commander can award 7 days of CCU.

6. NON-JUDICIAL PUNISHMENT

Non-judicial punishment (NJP) is an adjudication option provided for by Article 15 of the UCMJ. It is a purely administrative form of justice that occurs outside the courtroom.

a. Purpose. The purpose of NJP is to provide commanders a prompt and essential means for maintaining good order and discipline. NJP serves to correct misconduct without attaching the stigma of a court-martial conviction.

b. Minor Offenses. NJP is for handling minor infractions. Typically, minor offenses are defined as those for which the maximum confinement allowed by the UCMJ in a conviction by court martial would be 1 year or less. However, it is up to the discretion of the commanding officer to determine what is and is not a minor infraction.

c. Right to Refuse. Except in the case of a person attached to or embarked on a vessel, punishment may not be imposed under Article 15 upon any member of the armed forces who has, before the imposition of NJP, demanded trial by court-martial in lieu of NJP.

d. Procedures for NJP Appeals:

(1) In general. Any service member punished under Article 15 who considers the punishment to be unjust or disproportionate to the offense may appeal through the proper channels to the next superior authority.(2) Format of appeal. Appeals shall be in writing and may include the appellant’s reasons for regarding the punishment as unjust or disproportionate.

(3) Time limit. An appeal shall be submitted within 5 days of imposition of punishment, or the right to appeal shall be waived in the absence of good cause shown.

7. SUMMARY COURT-MARTIAL

Summary courts-martial have jurisdiction to try persons subject to the UCMJ, except officers, cadets, aviation cadets, and midshipmen, for any non-capital offense made punishable by the Manual for Courts-Martial.

a. Composition Of Court: Must contain (1) One commissioned officer.

b. Maximum Punishments E-4 and Below.

(1) Confinement for 30 days;(2) Forfeiture of two-thirds pay for one month;

(3) Reduction to the lowest pay grade;

(4) No punitive discharge may be awarded

c. Maximum Punishments E~5 and Above.

(1) Restriction for 45 days;(2) Forfeiture of two-thirds pay for one month;

(3) Reduction by one pay grade;

(4) No punitive discharge may be awarded;

(5) May not give hard labor without confinement.

8. SPECIAL COURT-MARTIAL

Special courts-martial have jurisdiction to try persons subject to the UCMJ for any non-capital offense made punishable by the Manual for Courts-Martial and, under such regulations as the President may prescribe, for capital offenses.

a. Composition of Court.

(1) Not less than three members; or(2) A military judge and not less than three members; or

(3) Only a military judge, if one has been detailed to the court, and the accused so requests.

(4) If the accused is enlisted, they may request that one third of the court be composed of enlisted personnel.

b. Maximum Punishments.

(1) Confinement for 12 months;(2) Forfeiture of two-thirds pay for 12 months;

(3) Reduction to the lowest pay grade; and

(4) Bad-conduct discharge.

9. GENERAL COURT-MARTIAL

A general court-martial has jurisdiction to try persons subject to the UCMJ for any offense made punishable by the Manual for Courts-Martial.

a. Composition of Court.

(1) A military judge and not less than five members; or(2) Only a military judge, if the accused so requests.

(3) If the accused is enlisted, they may request that two thirds of the court be composed of enlisted personnel.

b. Maximum Punishments.

(1) Death;(2) Forfeiture of all pay and allowances;

(3) Reduction to the lowest pay grade; and

(4) Dishonorable discharge.

REFERENCES:

1. Manual of the Judge Advocate General – JAGINST 5800.7C

2. Marine Corps Manual – MCM

3. Manual for Court-Martial – MFCM

4. Marine Corps Separation and Retirement Manual – MCO P1900.16

5. Uniform Code of Military Justice – UCMJ

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