Military Law Vs. Civilian Law


The justice system is a wide expanse of different segments that deal with particular jurisdictions related to the practice. Two of the main divisions regarding such classification include military and civilian law.

In simple terms, military law refers to the rules and regulations governing members of the armed forces, while civilian law alludes to a similar set of legislation that deals with regular members of the public. A standard difference between these two groups is the fact that military personnel can be convicted via both martial and civilian law, while members of the public can only fall subject to the ruling of the latter. Other differences that can be identified between these two sectors of jurisdiction include:

Identifiable Jurisdictions

Apart from the fact that individuals who are not members of the armed forces cannot be subjected to martial law, it should also be noted that this particular section falls under the category of federal jurisdiction and thus can supersede lesser levels of authority should they wish. Civil law, on the other hand, falls under a selection of different domains depending on the offense committed, meaning people who are guilty of misdemeanors, for instance, cannot be convicted under the guidelines of such a dominion. Federal jurisdiction is the highest level available in the judiciary, meaning a court-martial is taken as seriously as possible by all those involved. It can be argued that a Fort Bragg court martial attorney deals specializes in federal cases as a result of the nature of their position.

Principle Guidelines

Civilian law is governed by the various articles in the constitution, as well as related legislation that has risen from this particular source. The constitution applies to every member of the public and not just civilians, however, and thus military personnel cannot argue that the rules do not apply to them because of their position. Martial law, on the other hand, is governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice which can only be implemented during military cases. The UCMJ is different from civilian law in that it deals with various circumstances that cannot be applied to the general public, such as desertion, subordination, and other similar scenarios.

Jury Selection

In civilian cases, a jury is selected from a collection of the accused peers as per the constitution, and summonses are sent to potential candidates who will then attend an interview process conducted by both sides to establish suitability. Military law procedures take up a slightly different approach, however, and a jury formed for such a case usually consists of commissioned officers who, technically speaking, cannot be viewed as the defense’s peers. Martial law does offer an individual the option of requesting the presence of their fellow enlisted personnel as part of the pool, however, should they feel that this could help the trial progress in their favor.

The number of jury members present also differs from their civilian counterpart as well. Whereas civilian cases insist on 12 people to represent this section, this is not always a necessity when dealing a court-martial. The number of members in a jury pool can range from three people and reach up to 12 depending on the kind of case that is involved. Severe cases within the military also tend to insist on 12 jury members as well.

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