Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP)
Military Criminal Defense Lawyers in Tacoma
NJP, known as Article 15 in the Army and Air Force, Mast in the Navy and Coast Guard, and Office Hours in the Marine Corps, is a provision of the UCMJ which authorizes punishment of service members for minor offenses. It is referred to as non-judicial because the punishment is imposed by a commander not through a court martial proceeding.
To learn more, contact an experienced Tacoma military criminal defense attorney from The Law Offices of Krupa & Clark.
Purpose & Possible Penalties
The purpose of NJP is to allow commanders to resolve issues of minor misconduct quickly and efficiently, thus maintaining the good order and discipline of their units. While a punitive action, NJP is supposed to function as correcting, educating, and reforming without the stigma of a court martial. In today’s military however, a guilty finding at an NJP is often followed by an administrative separation action resulting in discharge. Punishment in NJP depends on the rank of the accused as well as the level of NJP.
Possible punishments may include:
- Admonishment or reprimand
- Extra duty
- Forfeiture of pay
- Reduction in rank
- Correctional custody
The decision to impose NJP is completely the commander’s. However a service member may refuse to accept NJP and demand trial by court martial. Note that this “turn down” is not available to Navy and Marine Corps who are attached to or embarked on a vessel.
By accepting to proceed by NJP a service member is not admitting guilt. Rather they are agreeing to let the commander decide whether they are guilty, and if guilty, what punishment should be imposed. Similarly to an SCM, if a service member turns down NJP the command may decide to send the case to a court martial, dispose of the case administratively, or dismiss it entirely. The normal response is to send it to court martial.
The Right to an Attorney
All services allow those facing NJP to consult with a Tacoma military criminal defense attorney. While an accused in not afforded a military defense attorney in the NJP proceeding before the commander, the defense attorney will be able to advise the accused person about how to proceed and put a case together.
Counsel will also be able to advise the accused about whether or not it is a good idea to turn down the NJP. Note: it is extremely important that before objecting to NJP, an accused actually speak to a Tacoma military criminal defense attorney. They should be considered the first line of defense in any NJP proceeding.
The Law Offices of Krupa & Clark will consult with accused facing an NJP but only if they have personally met with or spoken to a military defense attorney first. Call us at (253) 345-4506 for a free consultation.