Anyone facing criminal accusations has to think about their future. This being said though, for those in the military, not only does a service member have to worry about damage to their personal and professional reputation and prison time, but also depending on the crime, he or she could be saying goodbye to their future military career.
The Uniform Code of Military Justice criminalizes behaviors that might be inconsequential or even commonplace in the civilian context, such as fraternization, missing work or insubordination. In the military, such behaviors could result in prosecution in the form of a court-martial. If that proceeding results in a conviction, severe punishments may attach, including a loss of one's military benefits and/or discharge.
There are parallels that can be drawn between the military courts-martial process and a criminal proceeding in the civilian context. Just as civilian police forward their investigation to a district attorney who makes the decision of whether to press charges, so do military commanders make a decision after conducting a preliminary inquiry. Not every inquiry may progress to a court-marital proceeding under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Civilian employees who suffer illegal treatment under their supervisors, such as a negative employment evaluation based upon a protected category like gender or race, may have recourse under state and federal employment laws. In the military, a service member must challenge an adverse action according to the procedures of his or her military department.
In previous posts, we've discussed the unique aspects of the military justice system. However, readers should be aware that service members might also seek relief in federal courts, under certain circumstances.