Appealing a Court-Martial Conviction: Is It Even Possible?

gavel and scales on desk

The steps that must be taken in order to appeal a military court conviction.

When a person is convicted of a crime in a military court, they may feel as though they have few, if any, options when it comes to appealing the decision. However, this is not always the case. There are several steps that must be taken in order to appeal a military court conviction and it is important to understand them before taking any action. A military defense lawyer at The Griffin Law Firm can help you in this situation.  

What Is a Court-Martial?

A court-martial is a military trial . The court-martial has jurisdiction over all military personnel, including members of the reserve components, but may also try civilians who are subject to the code of military justice.

The court-martial is composed of a panel of officers who act as judges, and a military prosecutor who represents the government. The defendant has the right to an attorney but can be represented by private counsel. Private counsel has the right to cross-examine witnesses and present evidence in defense. Court-martials are governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

What Are the Grounds for Appealing a Court-Martial Verdict?

If you are not happy with the court-martial verdict, you may be able to appeal the decision. The grounds for appealing a court-martial verdict vary depending on the offense, the punishment, and the type of court-martial you underwent. 

For example, a military court of appeal will review your case automatically if you were given a sentence of death, a dishonorable discharge, a poor conduct discharge, dismissal (if you were an officer), or a minimum of one year in prison. This process requires no effort on your part and is put in place to ensure that all due process was followed.

Irrespective, if you are unhappy with the outcome of the review conducted by the convening authority, you may file an appeal with the military court of appeals for your service branch.

Common Errors That May Be Spotted in a Court-Martial Appeal

One common error is an incorrect application of the law. Another common error is failing to properly preserve your appellate rights.

Other common errors generally include errors in procedure, and bias on the part of the military judge or jury. To be successful, you must show that the error(s) materially affected the outcome of your case. 

Are There Alternatives to the Standard Court-Martial Appeals?

Yes, there are alternatives to the standard court-martial appeals process. If you do not agree with the decision of your military court, you can file a writ of habeus corpus with a higher court. You can also appeal your case to the US Supreme Court, or request clemency from the judge, jury, or the US President

While the clemency option presents you with a fair chance of you getting the charges reduced or dropped, the other two options are rarely successful and should only be pursued as a last resort.

Speak to a Military Defense Attorney

In conclusion, it is worth understanding an individual convicted by a court-martial can successfully appeal the decision. While the process is complex and the grounds for appeal are limited, it is however possible to appeal a court-martial conviction and there have been cases in which the conviction has been overturned. 

If you are considering appealing a court-martial conviction, it is important to seek legal counsel with a military defense attorney from Griffin Law Defense to help you navigate the process.

Related Posts
  • Can a Criminal Record Affect Your Ability To Enroll in Military Service? Read More
  • Is It Possible To Appeal a Court-Martial Conviction? Read More
  • How Can Your Attorney Help You During a Military Investigation? Read More