An Overview of the Military Justice System

One of the first things that any new recruit soon discovers about the military is that it is full of laws, rules, and regulations. The whole concept behind all of this is to build the foundation of discipline, because that’s what it takes to be part of the US Military.

The military is a whole new world of justice to a fresh recruit. It is something he should want to learn fast and thoroughly, if he wants to make it through without some unpleasant tasks and times. Just think: as a civilian when you are late for work you may get a slap on the wrist or a scowl from the boss. When you are late for duty in the military, you have broken the law.

When it comes to the fullest extent of the law, we’re talking about a court martial. There, very serious punishment can be handed out, including execution.

When one looks at the military overall, it is quite parallel to civilian law. Military law is sort of a mixed bag of civilian, military, constitutional, and even international law.

The existence of Military law goes back to the beginning of time when the forces of protection first became organized, when the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) came into effect. This became the official justice system of the Military on May 31, 1951.

When the first Military courts were set up, they were comprised of appellate judges of the military. If there is an appeal of trial, then this is the first level the case will go to within the system. From here it can go to the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. This is where the appeal ends though, since this is the highest court. This appeal system is critically important for a fair judicial system.

As time progressed, there have been other significant changes. For example, the Manual for Courts-Martial entered into effect in 1969. Following closely behind this was the Military Justice Act of 1968. After a period of time, this act was revised and became known as the Military Justice Act of 1983.

There will always be continual revisions of Military law as needs and circumstances dictate. Military law can become complex, though, when the decision has to be made regarding who has jurisdiction over an alleged crime. There are many factors that have to be considered regarding jurisdiction.