Has your commanding officer or OIC notified you that he intends to send you to Article 15 or nonjudicial punishment for an alleged violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice? Article 15 of the UCMJ governs nonjudicial punishment proceedings. Nonjudicial punishment or “NJP” is a tool for commanders to quickly address minor offenses without resorting to the court-martial process. NJP is known by a variety of terms among the Services. In the Army and the Air Force, NJP is called Article 15; in the Marine Corps it is called NJP or “Office Hours.” The Navy and the Coast Guard call NJP “Captain’s Mast” (or “Admiral’s Mast”). The punishment at NJP can include the following:
While NJP is not a criminal conviction, it can have a serious negative impact on a servicemember’s career because a record of the NJP is often placed in the official service record.
Before a commander may impose nonjudicial punishment, he or she must notify the servicemember of the nature of the alleged misconduct alleged. The accused servicemember must also be given an opportunity to review the supporting evidence. Unless a servicemember is embarked on a vessel currently away from its homeport, the servicemember has an absolute right to refuse NJP.
The accused must be afforded the opportunity to meet with a military defense attorney prior to choosing whether to accept NJP. If the accused does not accept Article 15 punishment, the commander must terminate the hearing and decide whether to refer the matter to a court-martial.
Make no mistake, an NJP can have a serious impact on a person’s military career, including promotion, reassignment, competitive selection, and selective duty. Accordingly, a servicemember facing an NJP should contact a military defense attorney immediately to ensure that their rights are protected throughout the process. If you are facing an NJP, contact Brandon Barnett today at (817) 993-9249 for a free evaluation of your case.