Nonjudicial punishment, also known as Article 15 in the military, is a disciplinary measure used by commanders to address minor breaches of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). A nonjudicial punishment is an administrative action, it can significantly impact a military member’s career. If you have been given the option of nonjudicial punishment, contact R. Davis Younts an experienced Military Lawyer that offers a free consultation to discuss your options.
Nonjudicial punishment (Article 15 NJP) referred as Captain’s Mast
When a service member is offered an Article 15, it means that their commanding officer believes that the member has committed one or more UCMJ offenses. The member is presented with a choice to accept or refuse the Article 15. In most cases, service members have the right to decline and request a trial by court-martial, but there are exceptions. Consulting with legal counsel before making this decision is typically permitted but may change by service.
What are the Article 15 offenses?
Disobeying military orders, sleeping on duty, disrespect to superiors, and underage drinking are examples of disciplinary infractions usually punished under Article 15.
Accepting an Article 15 doesn’t imply an admission of guilt. It means that you allow the imposing commander to determine your guilt or innocence regarding the alleged offenses. By accepting, you waive your right to a court-martial, and the commander assumes the roles of judge and jury. Once you accept, the imposing commander must listen to your side of the case if you choose to present any evidence. You can provide witness testimony, statements, police reports, or speak personally to demonstrate your innocence or argue for a lenient punishment. You can also have an advocate on your behalf, and the presence of a military lawyer will be very important, so contact Military Lawyer Davis Younts for your Free consultation.
What are the types of witnesses that you can present?
- Expert witnesses
- Character witnesses.
After considering all the evidence, the commander decides whether you are guilty of the charged offenses. If found not guilty, the proceeding concludes and the Article 15 is discarded. If you’re found guilty, the commander determines the appropriate punishment, you will receive personal notification of the punishment, which will be documented on the Article 15 form.
If you’re found guilty, you can present evidence of extenuating circumstances or mitigating factors to influence the commanders decision on the punishment. Extenuation matters explain the circumstances surrounding the offense, while mitigation factors aim to reduce the severity of the punishment based on personal situation, service record, reputation and more. It’s crucial to provide evidence of the impact on your family like financial situation if you have dependents such as a spouse and children.
What are the 3 types of Article 15?
The Article 15 have three levels: Summarized, Company Grade and Field Grade. They divide in two main respects: the severity of the punishment and in how the record of it can affect a soldier’s future in the Army.
What is the maximum punishments under Article 15?
The maximum punishments can vary but typically include restrictions, extra duty, forfeiture of pay, and rank reduction. The specific limits may differ by service and depend on whether the action is a field-grade or company-grade Article 15.
If both restriction and extra duty are imposed, they must be served at the same time. Pay forfeiture, restriction and extra duty may be all or partially suspended.
In certain cases, a commander may choose to “suspend” the punishment partially or entirely. If a suspension is granted, you will be given a specific period to demonstrate improved conduct. If you successfully complete this period without further misconduct, the punishment will be dismissed. However, if any additional misconduct occurs, even minor in nature, during the suspension period, the original punishment will be fully imposed. Unsuspended punishments may take effect immediately after a guilty finding, but delays can occur for multiples reasons.
Can I appeal after I have been found guilty?
You have the right to appeal the commanders decision on the Article 15 within 5 calendar days of the announcement. Typically, extra duty and restrictions begin immediately, while rank reduction and forfeitures may be delayed waiting the appeal decision. Failure to submit an appeal within the specified timeframe may result in the commander rejecting the appeal as untimely.
Following the imposition of an Article 15, there may be additional service specific administrative actions, such as the creation of an unfavorable Information file or the filing of performance/restricted (OPMF) Section, officer selection record, or performance/fitness report annotations.
If a service member refuses the Article 15 for a court-martial, the chain of command will decide whether to drop the case or proceed with formal legal action. Choosing to reject an Article 15 in favor of a court-martial is a significant decision that should be made after consulting with a Military lawyer, preferably an experienced Military trial attorney who can assess the evidence and provide informed advice on the benefits and risks involved.
If the command proceeds with a court-martial, the case will be referred to a Summary Court-Martial, special court-martial, or general court-martial based on the circumstances. When an Article 15 is turned down, a Summary Court-Martial is often convened, although this may vary by service. The consequences of a court-martial conviction can be severe, potentially resulting in federal convictions that limit benefits and employment opportunities. It’s crucial to seek the guidance from an experience Military Lawyer like Davis Younts before making decisions in the context of Article 15.
If you have received an Article 15 offer, we recommend contacting Davis Younts for a complimentary consultation with an experienced military defense attorney who can provide guidance on your specific case.
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