Military justice has been around since the beginning of the military. The military judicial system is disciplinary based. The main reason for a military justice system is for the commander to have effective ways of handling discipline and control within the ranks of the services.
In 1951, the United States Congress created the Uniform Code of Military Justice, also known as UCMJ. The UCMJ was created to institute a consistent form of military justice in all branches of the nation’s military. All internal military justice issues are governed by this code and all active and retired military members must abide by this code. Military justice is made up of all the laws and actions leading all members of the military. The military judicial system is made up of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, also known as JAG. Some one serving in the Judge Advocate General’s Corp are knows as Judge Advocates. Judge Advocates function as legal advisors for their command post. JAG officers may provide personal legal advice to their commander. There are a multitude of issues their advice might be about; administrative law, government contracting, civilian law, military personnel law, war and international relations law, and environmental law. Judge Advocates will serve as military prosecutors in court-martial proceedings. These individuals may also serve as defense advisors in any military law proceeding.
There are different levels of disciple that may be enacted against a military member under the UCMJ. These range from Counseling, Reprimands, and Extra Training to a full blown court martial. When counseling is offered this can be verbal or in writing. Reprimands are a step stronger and can be used at a later date to justify firmer punishment. Extra Training is not considered punishment; it is used to correct a deficient behavior in the service member.
Many different reasons may cause an Administrative Discharge. There are three levels of Administrative Discharge: Honorable, General (Under Honorable Conditions), and Other Than Honorable. A Court Martial is the most serious punishment under the UCMJ. The three different kinds of court martial are: Summary, Special, and General. Punishments a court martial can deliver range from fines, prison or possibly death.
One avenue a commander has is known as an Article 15. Under an Article 15 the commander is both the judge and the jury. This punishment is used for minor offences under the UCMJ. The commanding office makes the final decision as to the whether the offense is considered minor or not. He will take into consideration the circumstances surrounding the offense.
The United States Constitution authorized the creation of our system of military justice. Military legal issues are unique matters which under the UCMJ are handled properly and fairly.