After an accused is found guilty, whether by trial or by plea, the court-martial will proceed to sentencing. At sentencing, the Government and Defense have the opportunity to present evidence to aid the sentencing authority (either military judge or jury) in determining an appropriate sentence. This evidence will be presented at a formal hearing, similar to trial proceedings, where each party will put forward arguments, evidence, and witnesses. Both the victim and accused have a right to testify or make sworn or unsworn statements at the sentencing hearing.
Although the guilt phase of the trial may be over, there is still work to be done. A good military defense lawyer can skillfully put forward evidence which explains the circumstances surrounding the offense to justify a lighter sentence. Further, the Defense may offer evidence to provide grounds for clemency.