What's the Most Common Military Discipline?

gavel and handcuffs
Officers and enlisted personnel must be willing to follow orders without question, no matter how uncomfortable or inconvenient they may be. This structure is essential for the military to function effectively and ensure that soldiers are always in formation and following their superiors' commands.

In the US military, there are several different rules that officers and enlisted members must follow to keep all the troops properly organized and on task. But what happens when a service member falls out of line? Well, they are usually punished. There are various military disciplines, including verbal reprimand, written reprimand, and court martial. The military defense attorneys at The Griffin Law Firm explain more.

What Is a Verbal Reprimand and When Is It Used in the Army?

A verbal reprimand is an official reprimand issued by a superior officer to a subordinate for violating military etiquette or policy. Verbal reprimands are typically given as punishment for conduct that does not meet the standards expected of an army member. 

A verbal reprimand may be issued for several reasons, including but not limited to: talking out of turn, unethical behavior, and poor performance. Verbal reprimands are usually considered minor punishments intended to improve the individual's behavior.

What Is a Written Reprimand and When Is It Used in the Army?

As you have seen, when a service member commits a minor military infraction, they are typically disciplined through verbal communication. This is generally done through an explanation from their commander, or an immediate punishment such as 25 pushups, for example. In some cases, however, this may be followed by a written reprimand. A written reprimand, also termed non-judicial punishment, is the military's most common form of discipline.

A written reprimand aims to communicate the seriousness of the offense and deter future misconduct. A written reprimand is usually issued when an individual has committed an act that reflects negatively on the unit or organization they are affiliated with. When issuing a written reprimand, commanders will consider the offense's severity, the individual's prior disciplinary history, and any mitigating factors.

What Is a Court-Martial and When Is It Used in the Army?

A court-martial is a military tribunal that can try members of the armed forces for violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). It is usually used to punish members for serious crimes, such as murder, rape, insubordination, or desertion. The UCMJ applies to all members of the armed forces, including officers. 

The process of a court martial is different for every military branch. In general, however, a court-martial consists of three parts: an investigation, a trial, and punishment. The investigation is where the prosecutor tries to find evidence to support their case against the accused. The trial is where the judge and a handful of senior officers hear the evidence and decide whether or not the accused deserves to be punished. The punishment part decides what kind of punishment the accused will receive.

What Can You Do if You Are Faced With Military Punishment?

If you face military punishment, speaking to an experienced military defense lawyer is essential. Griffin Law Defense can help you understand the options available to you and guide you through the process of obtaining a defense. Our lawyers have experience representing servicemen and women in court and will work diligently to protect your rights.

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