A Summary Court-Martial (SCM) is the lowest level of court-martial. A single line or staff officer is appointed by your Battalion Commander to investigate the charges and decide whether you are guilty. If you are found guilty, the Summary Court Officer recommends a punishment to your Battalion Commander. Your Battalion Commander may approve all or part of the recommended punishment, but may not increase it. You do not have the right to be represented by a military defense attorney at a Summary Court-Martial. The maximum punishment at a Summary Court-Martial is 30 days confinement (for soldiers E4 and below), reduction to the grade of E1 (for soldiers E4 and below) or reduction one grade (for soldiers E5 and above), and forfeiture of 2/3 pay per month for one month.
Special Court-Martial (SPCM)
The next level of court-martial is a Special Court-Martial (SPCM). You have the right to be represented by a military defense attorney at no cost to you at a Special Court-Martial. Conviction by this type of court is a federal conviction. If your brigade level commander sends your case to a Special Court-Martial (SPCM), the maximum punishment you could receive is twelve months of confinement, reduction to E1 (regardless of your rank), and forfeiture of two-thirds pay per month for twelve months.
Bad Conduct Discharge Special Court-Martial (BCDSPCM)
The third level of court-martial is a Bad Conduct Discharge Special Court-Martial (BCDSPCM). A BCD Special Court-Martial may adjudge the same sentence as a Special Court-Martial, plus give you a Bad Conduct Discharge.
General Court-Martial (GCM)
The highest level of court-martial, a General Court-Martial, may adjudge any sentence up to the maximum authorized by law for each offense with which you were charged. This may include a Dishonorable Discharge or a Bad Conduct Discharge, confinement, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and reduction to E1.
The Article 32 Hearing (32)
Before a case can be sent to a General Court-Martial, an investigating officer will be appointed to examine all the charges to determine whether the evidence supports the charges. This investigation is called an Article 32(b) pretrial investigation, or "Article 32" for short. You have the opportunity to be present during this Article 32, to call witnesses and present evidence in your own behalf, and to have your defense attorney question the witnesses against you.
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