Military Legal Glossary
Accused - A person who is charged with an offense
under military code.
Accuser - Any person who signs and swears to
charges, any person who directs that charges be
signed and sworn to by another.
Admission - A self-incriminatory statement falling short
of a complete acknowledgment of guilt.
Appellate Review - The after review of the record of
trial by a judge advocate and action by the convening
Apprehension - The taking of a person into custody.
Arraignment - The reading of the charges and
specifications to the accused or the waiver of their
reading, coupled with the request that the accused
enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
Arrest - Moral restraint imposed on a person by oral or
written orders of the competent authority limiting the
person's personal liberty pending disposition of the
Arrest in Quarters - Moral restraint limiting an officer's
liberty, imposed as a non-judicial punishment by a flag
or general officer in command.
Article 15 - An article of the Uniform Code of Military
Justice providing a procedure for investigating and
punishing minor misconduct by military members.
Article 39a Session - A session of a court-martial
called by the military judge either before the members
are seated or after that phase of the trial has begun.
Bad Conduct Discharge - One of two types of punitive
discharges that may be imposed on an enlisted
Bench Trial - Based on a request by the accused, a
trial where the military judge hears the evidence,
determines guilt and imposes a sentence.
Capital Offense - An offense for which the maximum
punishment includes the death penalty.
Challenge - Formal objection to a member of the court
or the military judge being allowed to continue to sit
on a court-martial.
Charge - A formal statement explaining the article of
the Uniform code of Military Justice which the
accused I alleged to have violated.
Charge and Specification - A description in writing of
the offense that the accused is alleged to have
Clemency - Discretionary action by person authorized
to reduce the severity of the sentence.
Command - The authority that a commander in military
service lawfully exercises over his/her subordinates
by virtue of being placed in command by a superior
Constructive Knowledge - Knowledge which may be
found to have existed because the regulation, notice,
fact, or directive at issue was of so notorious a
nature, or was so conspicuously posted or
distributed, that the particular accused ought to have
known of its existence.
Convening Authority - The officer who has authority to
convene a court-martial.
Convening Order - The document by which a
court-martial is created. It specifies the type of court
and lists the time and place of meeting, the names of
the members, counsel, and the authority by which the
court-martial is created.
Court-Martial - A military tribunal composed of one or
more members of the Armed Forces.
Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces - A civilian
appellate court composed of five judges appointed by
the President and confirmed by the Senate.
Court of Criminal Appeals - A military appellate court
composed of not less than three officers or civilians
that reviews records of certain courts-martial.
Dereliction of Duty - Willfully or negligently failing to
perform assigned duties or performing them in a
culpably inefficient manner.
Dishonorable Discharge - The most severe punitive
discharge, reserved for those who should be
separated under conditions of dishonor, after having
been convicted of offenses usually recognized by the
civil law as felonies or military offenses requiring
Dismissal - the punitive discharge imposed on officers
and warrant officers.
Disrespect - Words, acts, omissions that are
synonymous with contempt and amount to behavior or
language which detracts from the respect due to the
authority and person of a superior.
Defense Counsel - A judge advocate who represents
a military member in any adverse actions.
Elements - The essential ingredients of an offense
that are to be proven at the trial.
Judge Advocate - An officer who is admitted to the bar
of the highest court of any State or federal court and
has been designated as a judge advocate.
Legal Officer - Any commissioned officer of the Navy,
Marine Corps, or Coast Guard designated to perform
legal duties of a command.
Manual for Courts-Martial - Provides procedures for
the practice of military law, such as the Rules for
Courts-Martial and the Military Rules of Evidence.
Matter in Aggravation - Any circumstance serving to
explain the commission of the offense, including the
reasons that motivated the accused, but not
extending to a legal justification.
Matter in Mitigation - Any circumstance which is
introduced for the purpose of lessening the
punishment to be awarded by a court or to serve as
grounds for a reduction of that sentence in clemency.
Military Judge - The commissioned officer who acts as
the judge in courts-martial.
Minor Offense - An offense for which confinement of
less than one year is authorized.
Negligence - The failure to exercise the care,
prudence, or attention to duties that the interests of
the government require to be exercised by a prudent
and reasonable person under the circumstances.
Non-judicial Punishment - Punishment imposed under
the Article 15 for minor offenses.
Pretrial Agreement - An agreement between the
accused and the convening authority, usually to limit
the amount of punishment that can be imposed in a
court-martial in return for a plea of guilty to some or
all of the charges.
Pretrial Investigation - An investigation under Article
32, UCMJ that is required before convening a General
President of the Panel - The senior ranking member of
a court-martial panel.
Punitive Articles - Articles 77 through 134 of the
UCMJ. These articles generally describe various
crimes and state how they may be punished.
Referral of Charges - The action of the convening
authority in directing that a particular case be tried by
Remission - Action by proper authority interrupting
the execution of a punishment and canceling out the
punishment remaining to be served.
Restriction in Lieu of Arrest - Moral restraint, less
severe than arrest.
Set Aside - Action by proper authority voiding the
proceedings and the punishment awarded and
restoring all rights, privileges, and property lost by
virtue of the punishment imposed.
Suspension - Action by proper authority to withhold
the execution of a punishment for a probationary
Trial Counsel - the judge advocate who serves as the
prosecutor in courts-martial.
Uniform Code of Military Justice - Referred to as the
"UCMJ", it forms the basis for military criminal law. It
contains the requirements for jurisdiction, trial
procedure, sentencing, and non-judicial punishment.
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