Military Law

Military Law

The foundation of military law is established by the Colonial Code of Military Justice (CCMJ), of which all members of the armed forces are subject to. The CCMJ sets forth, among other things, rights of the accused, procedures and authorities for court martial, punitive articles (crimes), and punishments.

For RP purposes, you can assume that the CCMJ is generally equivalent to the United States Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). This is what staff uses as the basis for offenses and punishments.

The CCMJ is implemented by the Judge Advocate General (JAG), which appoints court officers to prosecute, defend, and judge the guilt or innocence of the accused. Officially, all military officers are vested the power to enforce the CCMJ, but practically, designated units carry out this function. Aboard the Genesis, this unit is the military police detachment of the Colonial Marines. On smaller ships, such as fleet patrol vessels, Navy personnel may be charged with these duties.

When an arrest is made, the immediate commanding officer of the accused is designated the convening authority. This person is the only one with the power to initiate criminal proceedings. The authority should investigate (or direct investigation of) the case and decide to:

* Dismiss the charges, citing lack of merit or evidence. As a matter of policy, dismissed cases are expunged from the service member's records. In some cases, the commanding officer may dismiss the charges with a verbal warning and "off-the-record" punishment such as extra duty or cleaning the heads. This is usually done if the commander believes the soldier deserves a chance to redeem himself without a formal black mark on his record.
* Perform non-judicial punishment (NJP), to administratively punish the accused without a trial. This can only be done for minor crimes (misdemeanors), and the maximum punishments are limited. They can include: a formal letter of reprimand, reduction in rank (possible only for enlisted personnel E3 and under), confinement not to exceed one week, or up to 30 days restriction (house arrest, loss of shore leave or other privileges, etc.). NJP results in a black mark on the accused's permanent file. The accused may request a court martial in lieu of non-judicial punishment.
* Convene a court martial, a formal trial with greater scope of authority but greater logistical inconvenience. More information below.

A distinction should be made between officer and commanding officer. For example, a platoon leader is typically an officer, but the commanding officer is the company commander. In the Genesis theme, the commanding officer would be the department head.

A superior commanding officer may take over as convening authority at any time.

Court Martial

A court martial (pl: courts martial) is a formal military trial. It is an adversarial process with trial counsel, defense counsel, judge, and panel (jury). A court martial is convened when requested by a lawful convening authority. The most senior JAG official may act as judge. There are three types of courts martial, with decreasing scope:

* General, a complete trial with a full panel of six peers, with no limitations on punishment. Only general courts martial may impose the death penalty or separation from service.
* Special, a trial with a panel of three senior officers, including the judge. There are sentencing limitations, such as a maximum of six months confinement, and some crimes are excluded from trial by special court martial.
* Summary, a lesser trial with no panel, counsel or judges. It's more of a hearing in front of a single officer (usually the convening authority) who plays all the roles. The accused must be enlisted. There are much more sentencing limitations, such as a maximum of one month confinement.

In all cases, the judge determines severity of sentence, whereas the panel is only concerned with a verdict. The accused may request a general court martial.

Practical Considerations

The Colonial Code of Military Justice entrusts officers to maintain the integrity of the code by affording them the authority to make arrests. However, it is considered in poor taste for (1) a junior officer to perform an arrest, (2) any officer to arrest a service member not under his or her command, and (3) any officer to threaten arrest for minor (misdemeanor) offenses. These actions erode leadership and morale, and in the second case, fosters ill will between departments.

In practice, if an officer witnesses what he or she believes to be a crime, a complaint should be lodged with that individual's commanding officer. The exception is if the individual is behaving in such a manner so as to cause mortal danger to himself or herself or others. This means, practically, that only the individual's commanding officer may arrest the individual.

Enlisted Law Enforcement

Enlisted members of law enforcement (Military Police) have the power of detainment, an action officially distinct from but practically equal to an arrest. When an individual is detained, law enforcement have a limited time to locate the individual's commanding officer, who may then decide whether or not to arrest. Although detainment should not be used as a form of punishment, it is the de facto response for minor offenses. Frequently, commanding officers will simply allow the maximum time for detainment to expire and let that serve as a warning.

Other (non-MP) enlisted crew members do not have the power of detainment, and must contact the MPs to file a report if a crime is witnessed. They are permitted to subdue an individual who is behaving in such a manner so as to cause mortal danger to himself or herself or others.

Civilian Law under Martial Law

When there is implementation of martial law, the civilian legal system will be abolished and the military police have authority on all ships in the fleet. Civilians may be tried in military courts and are subject to military law. To use a RL parallel, the entire fleet can essentially be considered one big military base.

Since civilians have no commanding officer to act as the convening authority, this role is filled by the officer in charge of security. In the Genesis theme, this is the Marine S2.

Example: Military Police detain a civilian for disturbing the peace. The S2 reviews the MP's report and decides (usually in consultation with the JAG office) whether to bring formal charges or not. If formal charges are made, the S2 then decides whether to impose

Non-judicial punishment or convene a court martial.

Non-judicial punishment for civilians is subject to the same restrictions as for military crew, but with some additional practical considerations. Obviously a formal letter of reprimand has little effect on a civilian, and you can't reduce a civilian in rank. However, the other punishments still apply, including confinement, restrictions (reduction in rations, restricted movement, etc.) or forced duty (akin to community service).

As with military personnel, civilians can appeal NJP and request a full court martial instead.

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