This is lowest form of court-martial and is normally used for minor offenses. Summary courts-martial lie somewhere between nonjudicial punishments and special courts-martial. A summary court-martial is not considered a criminal trial and does not result in a criminal conviction unless the member is represented by a military lawyer during the hearing. Service members are not entitled to government funded military lawyers in this forum. The rules of evidence apply at SCM and service members have the right to cross-examine witnesses.
Importantly, service members can refuse summary courts-martial. Those who refuse summary court-martial will likely face special courts-martial instead. In certain cases, commands like to use summary courts-martial instead of nonjudicial punishments because one available punishment is confinement for 30 days. Confinement provides a visible deterrent to other members of the command. Further, service members E-4 and below can be reduced all the way to E-1. E-5 and above can be reduced one pay grade.
If you are facing summary court-martial, you should seek legal counsel to help you to decide whether to accept this forum. Together, Jeffery Meeks and Bruce White have 45 years experience as military lawyers counseling and representing service members facing this important decision. Call now for your free consultation.
Manual for Courts-Martial (2012)