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Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
From: (J.D. Baldwin)
Subject: Re: Adultery and the USAF
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 1997 16:18:32 GMT

In article <01bc75aa$4a812900$>,
Stephen M. Ryan <smryan@****> wrote:
>> Any CM be it Summary, Special or General is a felony conviction.
>Whether or not it is a felony depends on the potential sentence for the
>charge, such as confinement for a year or more.

A punitive discharge is a felony conviction, and may be awarded with
zero confinement time.  You're basically correct, though, since you
said "potential sentence" and I doubt that there are any offenses for
which a BCD can be given that don't also allow > 1 year confinement.

>You're not going to see any summary courts-martial on felony charges,
>because you can't get confinement for more than a year as a sentence in
>that type of court-martial.

A summary court may be held on felony *charges*, and indeed I have
personally sat as a summary court in more than one such case.  But it
CANNOT result in a felony conviction.  In these respects it is similar
to Article 15 proceedings, which theoretically may be held for *any*
offense, but do not result in a "conviction."

Also, the max sentence imposable by summary court is 30 days'
confinement, along with some fines whose exact limits I forget.  No
reductions in rank possible.

Other fun facts about summary courts-martial:

 - a single officer, generally O-3 or above, acts as investigator,
   prosecutor, defense, jury and judge; his job is to get to the
   bottom of the charges at hand and render a verdict and a
   sentence as quickly and fairly as possible

 - the standard of proof is "reasonable doubt" on all charges, unlike
   Article 15, which is "preponderance of evidence" (or, more
   practically, what the CO feels like)

 - a guilty plea at a summary court *must* be followed up with a
   providency inquiry (in which the accused admits, in some detail,
   every element of the offense charged); failure to conduct this
   inquiry is one of the very few ways in which it's possible to screw
   up a summary court

 - an accused has an absolute right to refuse a summary court (exercise
   of this right will invariably result in a special court), even an
   accused who is attached to a vessel and unable to refuse Article 15
 From the catapult of J.D. Baldwin  |+| "If anyone disagrees with anything I
   _,_    Finger |+| say, I am quite prepared not only to
 _|70|___:::)=}-  for PGP public    |+| retract it, but also to deny under
 \      /         key information.  |+| oath that I ever said it." --T. Lehrer

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