Article 15 Counseling

Defense Attorney For Non Judicial Punishment

Article 15/Non Judicial Punishment

Each branch of service allows your command to use nonjudicial punishment (NJP) when an alleged minor violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) has occurred. Your command is authorized to deal with minor violations or infractions of the UCMJ by offering you the opportunity to have a hearing pursuant to Article 15 of the UCMJ. When offered an Article 15 or NJP, you can either accept the action offered by your command or you have a right to turn down the Article 15 and demand a court-martial trial. Regardless of your decision, it’s always best to speak to a military defense attorney for Article 15 counseling.

Prior to making your decision to accept or refuse NJP, you also have the right to consult with an attorney.

Refusing NJP does not automatically mean that you will be sent to a court-martial, the issue could be dropped due to insufficient evidence to support the charge(s).

Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney like Aden Wilkie will allow you to make an informed decision after assessing the burden of proof. Aden Wilkie is located in Jacksonville, NC and services armed forces at Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg as well as other bases, camps, stations, and posts in the surrounding states and across the United States. To speak with him directly, call 910-333-9626 today.

Article 15 FAQs

An Article 15 typically umbrellas “minor offenses” which ordinarily does not include misconduct which, if tried by general court-martial would be punished by a dishonorable discharge. 

However, the final determination as to whether an offense is “minor” is within the discretion of the commanding officer. 

A commander can give an Article 15 at any point for any violation of the UCMJ. Only commanders or officers in charge are authorized to impose UCMJ Article 15 punishments. 

An Article 15 hearing is not a conviction. Instead, it is an administrative punishment. If you’ve been investigated by any MICO, there may be a record of the arrest and the charges in your NCIC records. 

However, accepting an Article 15 is not an admission of guilt. 

If you’re found guilty at your Article 15 hearing, this will be filed in your records. However, the Article 15 will be removed from your record after 2 years. 

Article 15s come in different levels: summarized, company grade and field grade. They differ in two respects–the severity of the punishment and in how the record can affect the soldier’s future.

Article 15s can affect a soldier’s future. Summarized Article 15s are filed in the local files for a period of 2 years or until the soldier transfers, whichever occurs first. 

Company and Field Grade Article 15s can be filed in the soldier’s official military personnel file. The commander in each case decides where to file the Article 15. An Article 15 in a soldier’s official records will affect promotions, clearances, and special assignments. 

Since an Article 15 in your military record can impact your ability to obtain special assignments, promotion, or clearances, if enough time has passed without any further disciplinary issues, in certain cases, you can get your Article 15 removed from your file. 

What Happens After an Article 15?

  • Accepting NJP is not an admission of guilt. It simply means that you elect not to have a judicial process, that is a trial, regarding the violation.
  • You agree to have your commander determine whether you are guilty or not guilty of the violation. Your commander becomes the judge and jury for the case.
  • You waive the right to a court-martial.
  • You and only you, can present evidence in you defense. An attorney will not be allowed to argue or advocate on your behalf to the commander during the NJP.

Possible NJP Outcomes

  • Not guilty
    • The proceeding ends and there are no consequences imposed as a result of the action.
  • Guilty
    • Punishment as officer deems appropriate.
    • Suspended punishment, (full or partial)
      • If no punishment assigned, it is as if the NJP never took place and jeopardy like protections kick in. You cannot be punished for the exact same facts a second time which is a windfall for you.
      • A probationary-type period may be given, so that if you stay out of trouble, your sentence would be dismissed.

An experienced military attorney can be instrumental in achieving these results.

Maximum punishments an enlisted member can receive

If heard by a Field Grade Officer (O-4 and up)

  • Admonition or reprimand
  • Confinement on diminished rations
  • Correctional custody of not greater than 30 days
  • Forfeiture of not greater than half of base pay for not more than 60 days
  • Rank reduction (to E-1 for E-4 & below, one pay grade for E-5 & up)
  • Extra duty of not more than 45 days
  • Restriction of not more than 60 days

If heard by a Company Grade Officer (up to an O-3)

  • Admonition or reprimand
  • Confinement on diminished rations
  • Correctional custody of not greater than 7 days
  • Forfeiture of not more than 7 days base pay
  • Rank reduction (one grade for E-4 & below, no reduction for E-5 &up)
  • Extra duty of not more than 14 days
  • Restriction of not more than 14 days

There are subsequent administrative actions possible when receiving a guilty verdict at NJP. If found guilty at NJP other administrative consequences can flow from this fact to include an Unfavorable Information File (UIF) in your Official Military Personnel File (OMPF), or a derogatory performance or Fitness Report evaluation.

If you decide to refuse or “turn down” an Article 15, your command will be forced to decide to either drop the case or forward it for prosecution via a court-martial. If your case proceeds to a court-martial, it would typically be a summary court-martial as the subject of a proposed or offered NJP stems from minor misconduct. More serious misconduct would be brought to a Special or General court-martial. The consequences of a court-martial can be onerous resulting in jail time, punitive discharge, reduction in rank, a possible federal conviction and/or the denial of benefits and future employment opportunities.

Obviously, the decision of whether to turn down an Article 15 and in-turn demand a court-martial is serious and consulting with an experienced military attorney is essential. Devil Dog Defender handles many of these cases, takes the time to listen to your concerns, and provides you with a seasoned, realistic evaluation of your case moving forward. Knowing the short and long-term legal consequences of your choice is just the beginning of your task, and Aden Wilkie can help guide you every step of the way and onto the best decision given your particular situation.

Should I Hire a Civilian Attorney for an Article 15 Counseling?

If you choose to hire a civilian attorney for an Article 15 counsel, your attorney will:

  • Marshal (gather) appropriate and convincing evidence and witnesses,
  • Prepare witnesses to directly substantiate your innocence or mitigate your guilt, and
  • Set you up for the best possible presentation of yourself and the evidence to your Commander during the NJP.

Aden Wilkie, the Devil Dog Defender, can provide advice and develop witnesses of your good character, positive military achievements, good duty performance and evidence in extenuation and mitigation of your case. The evidence presented may include statements and/or documentation of your personal or family situation, awards, duty performance, and character and reputation. This evidence will include the potential impact of any imposed punishments on you, your career, your family, and your children.

It is vital to use the knowledge of a seasoned attorney to organize and prioritize the material to present to the command. Call the Wilkie Law Firm at 910-333-9626 to arrange your consultation.

This information is intended to educate and help you better understand the process and is not meant as a substitute for the personalized advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney.