Should You Accept an Article 15 Non-Judicial Punishment?
In some cases alleging a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), a commander may use a type of administrative discipline called an Article 15 or “non-judicial punishment” (NJP). Typically, these are used for minor violations of the UCMJ. They provide an alternative to sending a case to court-martial.
If you are offered an Article 15, your commander will read the charges against you and present the evidence that the Government has against you, at that time. You will then have a limited amount of time – usually no more than a few days – to decide whether you want to “accept” the Article 15 or go to court martial, and you will be able to consult an attorney before you make your decision. If you accept, you present your defense to your commander, who then makes the decision regarding both your guilt and your punishment.
Deciding whether or not to accept an Article 15 is a big decision, and it depends on the specifics of the situation you face. First, although you may face punishment if you are convicted at an Article 15, the conviction is treated as an administrative matter, not a criminal one. Nevertheless, the administrative consequences can be severe. In addition, depending on the nature of the offense and any prior disciplinary paperwork you have, being found guilty at an Article 15 may result in discharge proceedings being initiated against you.
Any time you face accusations under the UCMJ, it is important to consult an experienced California military defense lawyer who can help you understand your options, make an informed choice, and build a strong defense.