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Summary Court Martial
Defense Section Summary Court Martial

You Have the Right to:

  • Object to SCM
  • Inspect papers and personnel records used during SCM
  • Remain silent or testify concerning the offense
  • Cross-examine witnesses
  • Plead guilty or not guilty
  • Make a sworn or unsworn statement
    • In extenuation (if pleading guilty, this is a good reason why you did it)
    • In mitigation (if pleading guilty, this is a reason why the CO should lessen your punishment)
  • Have witnesses appear on your behalf
    • On the merits of the offense, OR
    • As good character witnesses
  • Submit written matters to the convening authority (e.g. clemency recommendations) after a sentence is announced (see R.C.M. 1105)

If You Refuse Summary Court-Martial

  • Charges may be dropped,
  • Administrative action may be taken (page 11 counseling, administrative separation, non-punitive letter of caution, etc.), or
  • Charges may be referred to a Special Court-Martial. Compare the difference:
Max Punishment: Summary Court-Martial Max Punishment: Special Court-Martial
  • Confinement: 30 days (E-4 and below
  • Restriction: 60 days (E-5 and below)
  • Forfeitures: 2/3 pay for 1 month
  • Reduction:
    • E-4 and below: to E-1
    • E-5 and above: 1 pay grade
  • Confinement: 12 months
  • Forfeitures: 2/3 pay for 12 months
  • Reduction: to E-1
  • Discharge: Bad Conduct Discharge (BCD)

Making Your Case: Personal & Character Statements
Before you come in for summary court-martial counseling, think about what you will say and what others might say in your behalf. If you plan to make a statement, start work on it and bring it with you when you come in for counseling. If you plan to ask anyone else to be a witness, notify them and ask them if they are willing to be a witness for you. Here’s some guidance on making statements and preparing character witnesses:

  • Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM) (2008 Edition).
    • Rules for Summary Courts-Martial: Part II, Chapter XIII (pages 229-234)
    • Guide for Summary Courts-Martial: Appendix 9 (pages 527-538)
Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms