Regulations for the government of the United States Navy (1865)

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Arrests, Charges, and Courts-Martial Boards.

Section 1.

Arrests and Charges.

1202 No Commander of a vessel of the Navy is to continue the suspension from duty, arrest, or confinement, of a commissioned or warrant officer, for a longer period than ten days, unless a longer one be necessary to bring the offender to a court-martial ; and if, after the case of an offender to be tried by a court-martial has been brought to the notice of an authority empowered to convene such court, the offender, owing to imperative reasons, cannot be brought to trial within thirty days after that time, he shall, unless the Secretary of the Navy or the Commander-in-Chief otherwise direct, be released from arrest and returned to duty by his Commanding Officer, and so remain until a court-martial can be convened to try him, when he shall be again arrested on the day before this court is ordered to convene, so as to undergo his trial before it.

1203 As the law requires that the person accused shall be furnished with a true copy of the charges, with the specifications, at the time he is put under arrest, and as the officer empowered to convene a court-martial is to exercise his discretion either to dismiss a complaint against a party or have it investigated by such court, and to direct what portions of the complaint, in the event of a trial, shall be embodied or omitted in the charges and specifications preferred by a complainant, the general rule should be to leave the authority of arresting an officer to be exercised by the superior who may order a trial to take place.

1204 An officer placed under arrest by the orders of a Commander-in-Chief is to be brought to trial before a court-martial at the earliest moment the nature of the case itself and the exigencies of the public service will permit, unless from subsequent information or explanations the Commander-in-Chief should deem it proper and expedient to withdraw the charges entirely, release the officer fully from arrest, and restore him to duty.

1205 An offence, committed at any one time, for which a person in the Navy shall have been placed under arrest, suspension, or confinement, and subsequently entirely discharged therefrom by competent authority, or for which he shall have been otherwise fully punished, is to be regarded as expiated, and no further martial proceedings against him, for the offence itself, are ever afterwards to take place. If fully discharged from arrest or suspension by competent authority, at the instance of the party himself and by an arrangement in which he concurs, such discharge is to close forever further proceedings in the case so far as any naval authority may be exercised in relation to them.

1206 If any emergency of the service, or other sufficient cause, should render it requisite, in the opinion of the Commanding Officer or other superior authority, that an officer under suspension or arrest should be temporarily released therefrom, and, in the latter case, without the charge or charges against him being withdrawn, he may give orders to that effect, and the officer shall return to his duty accordingly ; but such release shall work no prejudice to any subsequent investigation of the case by a court of inquiry or court-martial that the authority vested with the power to institute either may think proper to order, nor to a subsequent investigation of any complaint that the party may prefer relative to his suspension or arrest.

1207 No officer placed under suspension or arrest shall be confined to his room, nor restrained from the proper use of any part of the vessel to which, before his suspension or arrest, he had a right, except the quarter-deck and poop, unless such confinement or restraint shall be necessary for the safety of the ship, or the preservation of good order and discipline; and even then, neither the confinement nor the additional restraint shall be imposed for any longer time than absolutely necessary.

1208 Every officer shall, when arrested, deliver up his sword when required by the authority of his Commanding Officer, and shall confine himself to the limits assigned him either at the time of his arrest or afterwards, under pain of being dismissed from the service by the sentence of a court-martial, or by the President of the United States.

1209 Officers making complaints or explanations are to confine their statements to the facts connected with the case, and they are not to express their opinions of the conduct or motives of the parties, or to use any abusive epithet or improper language in their communications.

1210 When an officer is suspended from duty and reported to a superior, the latter will call upon him for such explanations as he may choose to afford in relation to the affair, and for a list of persons whom he may wish to have questioned in support of them, and the superior may institute general inquiry into the facts and circumstances to regulate his further proceedings.

1211 If, after the investigation has been made by himself, or by others under his orders, the superior shall deem the offence to be of a character not sufficiently serious to require the action of a court of inquiry or court-martial, the officer against whom the complaint has been made shall be restored to duty by the orders of the superior if ten days have already elapsed from the time he was first put under suspension ; or, if this period has not so elapsed, the officer may be so restored at any time before, that the said superior may think proper.

1212 If, on the contrary, after an investigation, the superior should deem the offence to be such as to require scrutiny by a court-martial, the case is to be referred without avoidable delay to the Secretary of the Navy, or to the Commander of a fleet or squadron authorized to convene such court, as it may require, for his decision as to whether or not a trial shall take place, and the party against whom the complaint has been made may be continued under suspension to await it. If the decision be that no trial by a court martial is to take place, the party is to be released from suspension and restored to duty by his Commanding Officer. In so referring a case for such decision, special care is to be taken to transmit at the same time to the authority to whom the appeal is made a particular statement of the offences charged, embracing dates, places, and all other facts necessary to a conclusion as to the propriety or expediency of ordering a court martial, and to frame charges and specifications in case one should be ordered. Explanations of the party accused, briefs of information given by all who may have afforded any in relation to the case, and a list of the witnesses proposed, mentioning where they are to be found, should invariably accompany the statement.

1213 On the decision of a competent officer to have a party tried by a court-martial, he will cause such charges and specifications against him to be prepared as he may consider proper, and will transmit a true copy of them, with an order for the arrest of the accused, to the proper officer, who, on exhibiting such order to the accused and carrying it into effect by receiving his sword, will at that time deliver to him said copy of the charges and specifications.

1214 In preparing charges, offences of different character should not be embraced in the same charge, but a separate charge must be made for each offence.

1215 Offences shall not be allowed to accumulate in order that collectively sufficient matter may thus be obtained for a prosecution without giving due notice to the offender, and no offence for which an offender has already been formally reprimanded is to be revived and subsequently investigated, except when it may be indispensable to prove a particular habit charged.

1216 Any letter which may be written to the president or judge advocate of the court by an officer in transmitting the charges and specifications under which a party is to be tried, or a properly authenticated copy of the same, is in all cases to be filed with the charges as a part of the record of the court.

1217 An officer whose conduct is to be investigated by a court of inquiry need not necessarily be put or kept under suspension for the purpose. He may, however, if expedient, be, at his own request, excused from attending to the particular duties of his position during such investigation.

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