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Facing Nonjudicial Punishment? Know Your Rights!

November 1, 2017 By Jeff King

Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP) has various monikers among the branches of military service. In the Air Force or Army, non-judicial punishment is known as “Article 15”; the Marines use the term “Office Hours,” and the Coast Guard and Navy call it “Captain’s Mast.”

While the names of non-judicial punishment vary from branch to branch, the purpose remains the same. NJP actions are used to discipline service members for “minor” offenses and misconduct such as petty theft, disrespect to military superiors, sleeping on watch, furnishing false information, reporting late for duty and/or disobeying commanding orders.


You have the right to retain a military defense attorney


The extent of the penalties handed down will hinge on the rank/grade of the accused service member as well as that of the officer or command that is imposing the non-judicial punishment. Before any disciplinary action is taken, the accused must be notified that the NJP action is being considered and what the alleged offenses are. They must also be informed that they have the right to refuse the imposition of the NJP.


In the Marine Corps and Navy, NJP actions can only imposed by an Officer in Charge. In the Air Force and Army, only a commanding officer, on actual orders, can execute a non-judicial punishment.


Service members can refuse a NJP and request a trial by court martial. Those who accept an Article 15 or NJP are essentially giving their commander or officer in charge the authority to determine their guilt in the matter, foregoing all rights to a trial.


In both scenarios, the accused have the right to retain military defense lawyer, who will gather compelling evidence and witness statements aimed at substantiating innocence. An attorney will also outline the short and long-term consequences the non-judicial punishment will have on the accused, their career and their families.


Examples of non-judicial punishment


NJP penalties can vary from forfeiture of pay to extra duties and diminished rations (the latter is only enforceable in cases where the service member is attached to a vessel). The extent and severity will of the punishment is ultimately at the discretion of the imposing officer. Below are some samples of maximum penalties:


By a Field Grade Officer (Grades O-4 and above)


  • Reprimand or admonition
  • Forfeiture of base pay (no more than 50 percent) for 60 days
  • Rank reduction
  • Extra duty not to exceed 45 days
  • Correctional custody maximum 30 days
  • Restriction to specific limits not to exceed 60 days
  • Diminished rations/ confinement not to exceed 3 days for grades E3 and below


By a Company Grade Officer (Grade 0-3 and below)


  • Admonition or reprimand, verbal or written
  • Rank reduction – one grade for E-4 and below, not applicable for E-5 and above
  • Correctional custody (no more than 7 days)
  • Forfeiture of base pay (not to exceed 7 days)
  • Extra duty not to exceed 14 days and
  • Restriction of not more than 14 days
  • Confinement on diminished rations


Military defense lawyer in Dallas


A former marine officer and judge advocate (JAG), Jeff King has successfully handled many cases involving non-judicial punishment and other disciplinary actions imposed in the Navy, Army, Marines and Air Force.


If you’re facing separation from service from your command or officer in charge, a court martial or NJP, you need a skilled advocate in your corner who specializes in military law. Protect your rights by scheduling a private consultation with military criminal defense attorney Jeff King. Arrange a free case review today by calling the Dallas law office today.


Additional Resources on Non-Judicial Punishment:

  1., Non-Judicial Punishment Explained
  2. TheBalance, Nonjudicial Punishment (Article 15)
  3. HQMC Marines, The Uniform Code of Military Justice and Manual for Courts-Martial
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