Very bad. A military court-martial is a serious criminal proceeding that can severely alter and potentially destroy your life as you know it. Many people do not understand how bad a court-martial conviction can be until it is too late.
There are three types of court-martial. The most serious is a General court-martial, the equivalent of a Federal Felony trial. The maximum punishments are life without parole, death, and a dishonorable discharge. A Special court-martial carries a maximum punishment of one year in prison and a Bad Conduct Discharge. A Summary Court-martial is the least serious court-martial and generally does not result in a Federal conviction.
If convicted at a General or Special court-martial, you will have a Federal conviction on your record. Also, you may not be able to possess a firearm or vote, and your job opportunities will be severely limited. A court-martial conviction cannot be expunged from your record. In summary, when someone asks, “How bad is a court martial?” The answer is simple. It can be very bad. The only way to limit and avoid some of these repercussions is to get the best legal representation possible as you go through the process.