Tacoma Summary Court Martial Lawyers

SCM Actions in Pierce County & Western Washington

This disposition is the lowest court martial level. The convening authority is generally the battalion’s commander or other service equivalent. A conviction at an SCM is not considered a federal conviction and it cannot result in a discharge as part of the punishment.

Penalties at SCM

The punishments at SCM are capped, depending on rank.

E4 and below:

  • Reduction to lowest pay grade; and
  • Forfeiture of two-thirds of 1 month’s pay; and
  • One month confinement, 45 days hard labor without being confined, or 60 days restriction.

E5 and above:

  • Reduction of one grade;
  • Forfeiture of two-thirds of 1 month’s pay; and
  • 60 days restriction.

Due in large part to the above, a service member’s due process rights are much lesser at a SCM than at a special or general court martial. For example, there is no right to have appointed military counsel represent one at an SCM. Furthermore there is no panel, which is the military equivalent of a jury, deciding one’s fate. Rather there is a Summary Court Martial Officer who is appointed by the convening authority. This officer basically serves as the judge in the proceeding, makes rulings on motions, and controls the presentation of evidence.

If the case ends in a guilty finding, the Summary Court Officer imposes the punishment. It must be noted that while a conviction at an SCM cannot be the basis for another court martial, it can be used as the basis for an Administrative Separation action. In fact, this happens quite frequently in all service branches.

Because of the lower standard of due process, an accused has the right to turn down (object) to proceeding by SCM. If this happens, the command may decide to recommend a higher level of court martial, generally a Special Court Martial, employ non-judicial punishments (NJP), use administrative actions to complete the case, or dismiss the matter outright.

Important note: It is extremely important that one seeks the advice of a Tacoma military criminal defense attorney or qualified civilian attorney before objecting to an SCM. Steve Krupa has represented service members as retained civilian counsel at SCM. He is available for consultation by contacting our office.

Call The Law Offices of Krupa & Clark at (253) 345-4506 to schedule your free consultation with our skilled military criminal defense attorneys in Tacoma.

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