Legal Dictionary

court martial

Legal Definition of court martial


  1. A military court set up to try and punish offenses taken by members of the army, navy or air force.

Related terms

Definition of court martial

Alternative spellings


court martial (plural courts martial)

  1. A court where cases of military law are heard


to court martial (third-person singular simple present court martials, present participle court martialing, simple past and past participle court martialed) (US inflections)

to court martial (third-person singular simple present court martials, present participle court martialling, simple past and past participle court martialled) (UK inflections)

  1. To bring court martial proceedings against somebody


  • Anagrams of aacilmorrttu
  • matriculator

Further reading

A court-martial (plural courts-martial) is a military court. These military courts can determine punishments for members of the military subject to military law who are found guilty or may dismiss the charges based on the evidence and the case presented. Most militaries maintain a court-martial system to try cases in which a breakdown of military discipline may have occurred. Some countries, however, have no court-martial in time of peace: this is the case in France and Germany for example where civil courts are used instead.[1] In addition, courts-martial may be used to try prisoners of war for war crimes. The Geneva Convention requires that POWs who are on trial for war crimes be subject to the same procedures as would be the holding army's own soldiers. Additionally, most navies have a standard court martial which convenes whenever a ship is lost; this does not necessarily mean that the captain is suspected of wrongdoing, but merely that the circumstances surrounding the loss of the ship would be made part of the official record. Many ship captains will actually insist on a court-martial in such circumstances.

Make up of a court-martial

A panel of officers and enlisted persons may sit in judgment at a court martial, while the accused person is usually represented by an officer who may be a military lawyer.

Crimes under a court-martial's jurisdiction

Courts martial have the authority to try a wide range of military offences, many of which closely resemble civilian crimes like fraud, theft or perjury. Others, like cowardice, desertion, and insubordination are purely military crimes. Punishments for military offences range from fines and imprisonment to execution. Military offences are defined in the Army Act, Royal Air Force Act and Royal Navy Act for members of the British Military. Regulations for the Canadian Forces are found in the Queen's Regulations and Orders. For members of the United States they are covered under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). These offences, their corresponding punishments and instructions on how to run a court martial, are explained in detail based on each country and/or service.


  1. Note about the military justice, French Senat


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     landed property
2.     lex fori
3.     status quo
4.     ownership
5.     lex loci delicti commissi
6.     lex situs
7.     sodomy
8.     lex causae
9.     unjustified
10.     AORO