Courts Martial

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Courts Martial

If you are accused of wrongdoing while in the Services then there are two stages you may have to go through. The first is the initial investigation by the Royal Military Police (RMP) or Special Investigation Branch (SIB). It is quite common for them to formally interview you under caution about the allegation you face as part of the investigation. We can provide free representation at that stage.

The investigation may then result in you facing a prosecution. If you do face prosecution you are quite likely to have to attend a court martial rather than a civilian court.

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What is a Courts Martial?

A court martial is a formal legal process that takes place in a military court and is similar to a civilian court of law. Just like any other non-military trial, evidence is presented by both sides and there is cross-examination of witnesses. The court generally comprises of a judge advocate and between three and seven warrant officers or commissioned officers. They hear the evidence and decide on guilt or innocence and, if necessary, the judge advocate and other members of the court will deal with sentence. The punishment you can face varies greatly and is described in more detail below.

We would recommend that you get legal representation at the beginning of this process. To ensure you protect your career and to avoid serious punishments, including time in the Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC), you need to get expert legal representation throughout this process.

You are entitled to free representation if you are interviewed under caution by the RMP or SIB. If the matter proceeds to a court martial you are likely to be eligible for legal aid if you wish to rely on it. We can take you through process of applying and ensure you are aware of all of the funding options.

The less serious allegations, which proceed beyond the point of an interview, will be dealt with by either the Officer Commanding or your Commanding Officer. This is commonly called a summary hearing. You are not entitled to legal representation at this stage. However, you can obtain legal advice prior to that hearing, although this would have to be paid for on a privately funded basis. You do have the absolute right to elect trial by court martial if you wish.

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Summary Hearing

The less serious allegations, which proceed beyond the point of an interview, will be dealt with by either the Officer Commanding or your Commanding Officer. This is commonly called a summary hearing. You are not entitled to legal representation at this stage. However you can obtain legal advice prior to that hearing, although this would have to be paid for on a privately funded basis. You do have the absolute right to elect trial by court martial if you wish.

Lawyer Representation

If you either choose to have a Courts Martial or appeal the decision at the Summary Hearing, then you are entitled to be represented by a lawyer.

Allegation Plea

If the matter is a more serious allegation then it can only be dealt with by a court martial. Both a summary hearing and a court martial amount to a court case. When you appear at the hearing you can plead guilty or not guilty to the allegation.

Preparing for a Hearing

If you plead not guilty the court will set a date for you to return to the court marital when they will hear evidence for and against you. You can use our expert lawyers to help you prepare for this hearing, attend to represent you and significantly increase your chances of success.

Did you know?

Representation in a court martial can be funded by way of Legal Aid, which can be applied for through the Armed Forces Criminal Legal Aid Authority (AFCLAA). Legal Aid is means tested and you can nominate a lawyer of your choice.

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Why Hodge Jones & Allen?

Experience in military prosecution

We have significant experience in dealing with all the stages of a military prosecution. We have represented service men and women in the British Army, Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force at courts martial in Bulford (Wiltshire) and Catterick (Yorkshire) as well as outside of the UK, as and when required, at various venues.

Experienced litigators

Our background as experienced criminal litgators means that we are ready to fight for your rights and scrutinise the authorities’ actions. We have the experience and ethos to fight hard for your case.

Excellent reputation

We have a reputation for meticulous preparation and attention to detail in the way we analyse the evidence against you and gather and present evidence for you. We only instruct highly skilled and experienced barristers, as and when required. We have built up our contacts with military and non-military experts over 40 years, so that we can put together a top team on your behalf.

Frequently asked questions

You are entitled to free representation at an interview under caution and you may be eligible for legal aid if the case proceeds to a court martial.

Can I just call you to discuss this without being charged fees?

Yes, you can call our team of military lawyers for a free consultation with no commitment required.

I have an interview under caution with the RMP/SIB, shall I just call you after the interview if things go further?

No, you need advice at this stage. You should not attend an interview under caution without legal representation. It is free, remember.

Why not just go to a court martial with an officer who is assigned to support me, a Defendant’s Assisting Officer (D.A.O)?

Your DAO is not legally trained. There have been reports in the press that they are sometimes put under pressure to reveal private discussions with you to their Commanding Officer.

I am not in the UK and neither is the court martial, does this matter?

We can provide representation wherever you are.

Can I see you before the hearing takes place?

Yes, of course. We will prepare your case before hearing and meet with you at our offices or via the telephone or Skype.

What punishment could I get?

The powers available to the court martial are significant, they include the following;

  • A fine
  • Demotion in rank
  • Dismissal from the service
  • MCTC also known as the “The Glasshouse”
  • A term of imprisonment

We understand that the process and the prospect of any of the above outcomes will cause you a great deal of stress. We can take you through the process and options to ensure that you are able to make informed decisions about what is best for you personally and how to achieve this.

 

View all criminal defence FAQs

Featured Client Cases

Featured Cases

Partner Kerry Spence represented a member of the armed services in connection with an allegation of serious sexual assault on a fellow member of the services. Following a trial before a court martial, our client was acquitted of all wrongdoing.

Featured Cases

Associate Darrel Ennis-Gayle represented a solider in the Army of unlawfully using a firearm on the grounds of his barracks. He was initially interviewed by the Royal Military Police.

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