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Typical Court-Martial Case Processing from Offense to Referral

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Preliminary Company Charges Alleged Investigation

The rule for Court-martial commander preferred Offense 

The command or legal personnel may put soldier may dispose of (Rule for Court-martial 307) in restraint (Rule for Court-martial 304) of the case or pretrial confinement

Prefer charges (Rule for Court-martial 305) 

Receipt by Summary court-martial convening authority (SCMCA)

Accuser forwards who may dismiss

Summary court-martial convening authority makes charges, with offer Article 15, refer to recommendation to recommendation, to the SCM, appt Article 32, or Special court-martial convening authority. 

Summary court-martial convening authority forwards (Rule for Court-martial 403) (Rule for Court-martial 402) (Rule for Court-martial 403, 404) Special court-martial convening authority may dismiss, offer Article 32 

Investigating officer conducts Article 32 

Investigating officer prepares Article 15, refer to SCM, SPCM

Article 32 report forward, or appoint Art 32 Investigation (DD Form 457)

Investigation (RCM 404)

Special court-martial convening authority may order Article 32 

Investigating officer forwards 

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Art dismiss,

Refer to Special court-martial convening authority who considers Article 32 report

Article 32 report sent to Special court-martial convening authority Summary court-martial or Special court-martial.

Forward to disposition decision General court-martial convening authority (RCM 404)

General court-martial convening authority convenes 

General court-martial convening authority gets SJA refers case court

Pretrial Advice

Usually, the company commander or the accused’s immediate commander prefers charges. The person who prefers charges becomes known as the Accuser.

The Accuser forwards the charges. 

Once forwarded, charges may be disposed of only by a convening authority (CA).

Three levels of court-martial:

  • Summary Court-Martial Convening Authority
  • Special Court-Martial Convening Authority
  • General Court-Martial Convening Authority

The SJA will usually “bundle” the subordinate commanders’ recommendations with his Pretrial Advice.

General court-martial convening authority and Special court-martial convening authority who are accusers may not act as Convening Authorities. See Article 1(9), Article 22(b), Article 23(b).

If statutorily disqualified (because she signed charge sheet)

Convening Authority may dismiss, offer Article 15, appt Article 32, forward with rec. for General court-martial (must note disqualification). If personally disqualified (e.g., personal interest in the case), may not appt Art 32, must forward with no rec. (only Summary court-martial convening authority may be Accuser and a Convening Authority).

Usually, Convening Authority will have previously convened court, e.g., by creating a “standing panel.”

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