Trial by summary court-martial provides a simplified procedure for the resolution of charges involving minor incidents of misconduct. The summary court-martial consists of one officer who, depending upon Service policies and practice, is a judge advocate (a military attorney). The maximum punishment a summary court-martial may impose is considerably less than a special or general court-martial. The accused must consent to be tried by a summary court-martial.
You have the right to seek advice from counsel. You do not have the right to be represented by an attorney at a summary court-martial. You have a right to be given a reasonable opportunity to obtain witnesses. You have a right to plead not guilty and explain your case. You have a right to present matters in mitigation and extenuation.
IMPORTANT NOTE: It is also your right to turn down a summary court-martial. In most instances this may not be the best choice. In general, if you turn down a summary court-martial, it is more likely than not that the government will send your case to a special court-martial empowered to adjudge a bad conduct discharge. On the other hand, sometimes turning down a summary court martial and electing to be tried at a special or general court-martial may be the only sure method of obtaining a fair proceeding. You should always confer with an experienced attorney before turning down a summary court martial.