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Summary Court Martial (SCM)

This disposition is the lowest level of Court Martial. The convening authority is usually the Battalion Commander or other service equivalent. A conviction at an SCM is not considered a Federal Conviction and it cannot result in a discharge as part of the punishment. Furthermore, the punishments at SCM are capped depending on rank as follows:

E4 and Below:

  1. Reduction to lowest pay grade; and
  2. Forfeiture of two-thirds of 1 month’s pay; and
  3. Confinement for 1 month or 45 days hard labor without confinement, or 60 days restriction.

E5 and Above:

  1. Reduction of one grade;
  2. Forfeiture of two-thirds of 1 month’s pay; and
  3. 60 days restriction.

Due in large part to the above, a service member’s due process rights are much lesser at a SCM than at a Special or General Court Martial. For example, there is no right to have appointed military counsel represent one at an SCM. Furthermore there is no panel (the military equivalent of a jury) deciding one’s fate. Rather there is a Summary Court Martial Officer who is appointed by the convening authority. This officer basically serves as the Judge in the proceeding, makes rulings on motions, and controls the presentation of evidence. If the case ends in a guilty finding, the Summary Court Officer imposes the punishment. It must be noted that while a conviction at an SCM cannot be the basis for another court martial, it can be used as the basis for an Administrative Separation action. In fact this happens quite frequently in all service branches.

Because of the lower standard of due process, an accused has the right to turn down (object) to proceeding by SCM. If this happens, the command may decide to send the case to a higher court martial, refer the case for non-judicial punishment, dispose of the case administratively, or dismiss it entirely. The normal response is to refer it to the next higher level of Court Martial (Special). Note: it is extremely important that before objecting to trial by SCM, one seeks the advice of military defense counsel or a qualified civilian attorney. Steve Krupa has represented service members as retained civilian counsel at SCM. He is available for consultation by contacting our office.

Tacoma Criminal Defense Attorneys


The team at Krupa & Clark are excited to announce some new changes in our practice.  Steven Krupa will be leaving the firm to explore new opportunities effective June 30, 2020.  As of June 1, 2020, the name of the firm will be changed to the Law Offices of Michael Clark.  The firm will continue to focus on helping people who have been injured through the negligence of others, as well as other matters. The team, and especially Michael Clark, want to thank Steven for his years of dedicated service to his clients and the greater bar association, as well as for his friendship. We are proud of our association with Steve and look forward to seeing what the next chapter has in store for him.

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