Information on referral to a summary court-martial:
In this section, attention will be focused on the mechanism for properly getting a particular case to trial before a SCM. The basic process by which a case is sent to any court-martial is called “referral for trial.”
Preliminary inquiry. Every court-martial case begins with either a complaint by someone that a person subject to the UCMJ has committed an offense or some inquiry that results in the discovery of misconduct. In any event, R.C.M. 303 imposes upon the officer exercising immediate Nonjudicial Punishment (NJP) authority over the accused the duty to make, or cause to be made, an inquiry into the truth of the complaint or apparent wrongdoing. This investigation is impartial and should touch on all pertinent facts of the case, including extenuating and mitigating factors relating to the accused. Either the preliminary investigator or other person having knowledge of the facts may prefer formal charges against the accused if the inquiry indicates such charges are warranted.