Not all offenses by military service members in California are punished by a court martial. Offenses that are not serious enough to warrant court martial are punished by means outside of an official judicial proceeding. These are known as non-judicial punishments. While these punishments generally involve the revoking of privileges or pay, they can lead to a court marital under certain conditions.
As explained by Military.com, there are a number of minor offenses that can warrant non-judicial punishment. A service member may receive non-judicial punishment for engaging in petty theft or destroying government property. Failure to carry out a standing order, or sleeping while on watch, or not reporting on time for duty are also grounds for non-judicial punishment.
Non-judicial punishments vary. A person found guilty of an offense may be confined to quarters or end up in correctional custody. An officer could be demoted in grade. Pay can be detained or forfeited. An officer might be assigned extra duties or have rations cut. These punishments are dependent on a number of factors, such as the grades of the officer being disciplined and the officer imposing the punishment.
A person accused of a non-judicial offense retains certain rights. A service member should be notified of the charges and that punishment is possible. The service member has the right to appear before the officer who will impose the punishment. Other rights include the right against self-incrimination, to know and examine evidence against him or her, to have a spokesman, and to make the proceedings public.
The fact that an offense is punished by non-judicial means does not mean it cannot eventually end up as the basis for a court martial. FindLaw points out that even if a service member receives punishment, a court marital can still happen for the same offense. Additionally, a service member may prefer to go through a court martial and ask the commanding officer for one to adjudicate the charges. The commanding officer may decide to grant the request or not.