Article 15/Non-judicial Punishments

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Non-judicial punishment proceedings are known by different terms among the services. In the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, it is referred to as Article 15; in the Marine Corps, it is called Office Hours; the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard call non-judicial punishment Mast. No matter what it is called, it is a difficult and confusing time for any service member. Non-judicial punishment in the United States military is a form of military discipline authorized by Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The receipt of non-judicial punishment does not constitute a criminal conviction. Depending on the level from which the punishment was authorized, it will be either a temporary or permanent mark on your service record. Because it is included in your service record, it is a public record. A service member can be denied a commission if there is a non-judicial punishment on record. The process for a non-judicial punishment is governed by Part V of the Manual for Courts-Martial and by each service branch’s regulations.

Procedure

A service member must be notified, prior to the non-judicial punishment hearing, by the commander of the commander’s intention to impose non-judicial punishment, the nature of the misconduct alleged, supporting evidence and a statement of the accused’s rights under the UCMJ.

All service members, except those embarked or attached to a vessel, have a right to refuse non-judicial punishment and request a court-martial. If the accused does not accept the non-judicial punishment, the non-judicial punishment hearing will be terminated and a decision will be made as whether to proceed with a Court-Martial. If the service member accepts non-judicial punishment, the accused or a representative (who may be a civilian attorney, an NCO, or anyone else that you wish to have on your behalf and who is willing to help you) may attend the hearing to present evidence. The commander must consider any information offered during the hearing and must be personally convinced that the member committed misconduct before imposing punishment. The commanding officer in charge must decide that the accused committed the offense(s) by a preponderance of the evidence.

Punishments

Maximum penalties depend on the rank of the accused and that of the officer imposing punishment.

Disciplinary Process for Officers Accused of Misconduct:

If the officer imposing punishment holds General Court Martial authority, or a commanding officer of the grade O-7 or greater:

• Arrest in quarters: not more than 30 days.
• Restriction to limits: not more than 60 days. • Forfeiture of pay: not more than ½ of one month’s pay per month for two months.
• Admonition or reprimand.

By Commanding Officers of the grades O-4 to O-6:

• Restriction to limits: not more than 30 days.
• Admonition or reprimand.

By Commanding Officers of the grades O-1 to O-3

• Restriction to limits: not more than 15 days.
• Admonition or reprimand.

By Officers in Charge

• No non-judicial punishment authority over Officers.

For enlisted members accused of misconduct: Field Grade officers (O-4 to O-6) may impose:

• Restriction to specific limits (normally place of duty, barracks, place of worship, mess hall, and medical facilities) for not more than 60 days
• Extra duties, including fatigue or other duties, for not more than 45 days
• Restriction with extra duties for not more than 45 days
• Correctional Custody for not more than 30 days (only if accused is in the grades E-3 and below)
• Forfeiture of one half of base pay for two months
• Reduction by one (NCO below E-6 in USMC or E-7 otherwise) or more grades.
• Confinement on diminished rations or bread and water for not more than 3 days (USN and USMC E-3 and below only, and only when embarked on a vessel)
• Admonition or reprimand, either written or verbal.

Company Grade officers (O-3 or below) and commissioned OIC may impose:

• Restriction to specific limits (normally work, barracks, place of worship, mess hall, and medical facilities) for not more than 14 days
• Extra duties, including fatigue or other duties, for not more than 14 days
• Restriction with extra duties for not more than 14 days
• Correctional Custody for not more than 7 days (only if accused is in the grades E-3 and below)
• Forfeiture of 7 days’ pay
• Reduction by one grade, if original rank in promotion authority of imposing officer. Not imposable on E-6 or above for USMC, or E-7 or above for other services
• Confinement on diminished rations or bread and water for not more than 3 days (USN and USMC E-3 and below only, and only when embarked on a vessel)
• Admonition or reprimand, either written or verbal.

Appeal

An appeal is available for the service member after the disposition of a non-judicial punishment. The service member has 5 days to appeal the decision after its rendering. There are three grounds for appeal:

• There was not enough evidence to find the service member guilty.
• The punishment imposed was too severe for the offense.
• The commander did not follow the law or regulations during the non-judicial punishment proceedings.

The appeal authority may set aside the punishment, decrease its severity or deny the appeal, but may not increase the severity of the punishment.
Knowing your rights and responsibilities can make a large difference in the outcome of any non-judicial punishment proceeding. If you are facing non-judicial punishment, call one of our attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC at 5182187100. Our military legal team is very knowledgeable in the area of non-judicial punishments, and has past court-martial and trial defense experience with every military branch.

Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

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