Pretrial matters take on a significant importance to
the successful completion of any trial by court-martial.
For a case to go before a court-martial, certain pretrial
matters must be accomplished. These pretrial matters
extend not only to paper work but also to acts that must
be taken care of before the trial. In this chapter we
discuss the different types of pretrial matters.
PRETRIAL PAPER WORK
There are numerous situations in which you will
play an important role such as the preparation of charge
sheets, pretrial agreements, grants of immunity,
individual military counsel requests, witness requests,
flyers, findings and sentence worksheets, and seating
charts for members. The office you are assigned to
depends on what pretrial items you will prepare.
However, there is no doubt that you will be involved in
some aspect of pretrial paper work.
One of your most important pretrial duties is the
preparation of the Charge Sheet, DD Form 458, which
is shown in figure 6-1. You will most likely draft the
charge(s) and specification(s), particularly if there is no
judge advocate available.
Charges and Specifications
The officer conducting a preliminary inquiry on a
serious offense usually completes the charge sheet and
delivers it with the preliminary inquiry report. Then, if
the commanding officer (CO) orders a pretrial
investigation, the charge sheet is available for the
investigating officers use.
You must prepare this
formal written accusation, known as the charges and
specifications, before any accused is tried.
The charge lists, by number, the article of the
Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) that the
accused has allegedly violated. The specification states
specifically what the accused did or caused to violate the
Code. The specification must allege all the elements of
The specification also contains
jurisdictional allegations. Jurisdictional allegations are
the facts that show the court has jurisdiction over the
accused and the offense.
The specification further
identifies the accused and gives the details that form the
violation. These details include the where, when, and
how of the offense.
Courts-martial have been disapproved on review by
higher authority because of faulty or fatally defective
specifications, even though the accused has been
convicted. The Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM)
contains forms for drafting charges and specifications
for most offenses. Do not alter these forms.
NUMBERING OF CHARGES AND SPECI-
FICATIONS. If there is only one charge, do not
number it. If more than one charge exists, number each
charge in order using Roman numerals I, II, and so on.
Charges that are preferred after other charges have been
preferred are called additional charges and are also
numbered using Roman numerals. However, the word
Additional must appear in front of the word Charge; for
example, Charge I: Violation of the Uniform Code of
Military Justice, Article 86; Additional Charge I:
Violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice,
In numbering specifications, use Arabic numerals 1,
2, 3, and so on. If there is only one specification under
the charge, do not number it. Designate the
specifications under additional charges in the same
manner as for regular specifications. Do not use the
word Additional with the specifications.
DRAFTING OF CHARGES. The charge should
be appropriate to all specifications under it, and is
Violation of the Uniform Code of Military
Justice, Article , giving the number of the article.
DRAFTING OF SPECIFICATIONS. A
specification should be brief but complete and must
contain the following essential elements:
Rate of accused
Name of accused
Branch of service of accused
Unit of accused
Time of alleged offense based on a 24-hour clock