In this series on the difference between a court martial and civilian cases, we look at the history of the growing differences between the two legal proceedings.
The decision to enter military service requires time and inner reflection for a potential recruit. Recruiters tout the numerous benefits of serving the United States. However, the decision must be well-thought-out with an understanding of the new rules and regulations that must be followed following enlistment.
While civilians must adhere to local state and federal laws, members of the military must adhere to the United Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Created by Congress in the 1950s, it is consistent with all military branches. Violations can lead to severe consequences, including court martial.
Increased differences over time
While sharing certain commonalities, the line between military and civilian law rules and procedures over time has stark differences. The objective of civilian laws is to put an end to bad behavior while promoting public safety that resolves disputes without rancor.
Conversely, military law distinctly emphasizes discipline as “the soul of any army,” according to General George Washington, founder of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. The objective is to maintain order and discipline throughout the armed forces and criminally punish conduct that violates the very tenants of military service.
Countless television shows and major motion pictures have depicted the application of the UCMJ with relative amounts of success and some accuracy. However, misconceptions can occur when those who never served in the military are crafting tales that may be rife with errors.
Violations of the UCMJ can take many forms, ranging from failing to obey a lawful order or regulation to desertion and mutiny. Regardless of the severity of the allegations, the help of an attorney experienced in this unique aspect of the law can be invaluable.