What is non-judicial punishment (NJP)?
The term non-judicial punishment (NJP) describes forms of punishment used to maintain good order and discipline in each of the armed forces. NJP is allowed by Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Depending on which service you are a member of, NJP is referred to by varying names. You may hear the term “Article 15,”“Captains Mast,” or “Office Hours.” Each of those terms describe the action of receiving a NJP.
UCMJ violations resulting in NJP are considered less serious than violations that result in preferred criminal charges. However, a comparatively minor UCMJ violation resulting in NJP will negatively affect, and can even terminate, your military career.
What are your options if you are going to receive a NJP?
- Before being awarded a NJP, you must first be given notice of the accusations against you. Your Commander is required to explain the circumstances leading to the intent to award you a NJP.
- You will also need to decide to either accept or reject the NJP. Your response is an important decision.
If you are facing a NJP, you have the option to consult with a military lawyer at Crisp and Associates who understands the process and the UCMJ. Our military lawyers can help explain which option may be best for you and your military career if you are facing NJP.
If you accept the NJP, you may still present evidence to rebut the accusations you are facing. However, that evidence, and your fate, will be left to the discretion of the Commander. Even if your commander determines the allegations against you are true, punishment must still be decided. Your Commander may award punishment but decide not to enforce it. This is known as suspending punishment.
The military attorneys at Crisp and Associates understand the appropriate legal arguments to make if you choose to accept NJP. Our experienced counsel can help prepare you and guide you through the process. If you accept NJP, you are not admitting your guilt but rather saying you do not want to exercise your right to a Court-Martial. Accepting a NJP is not a criminal conviction.
The alternative to accepting NJP is rejecting it. If you reject NJP, you are requesting a Court-Martial. By making that decision, you are forcing the government to make a choice. The government must either choose to convene a trial and prove accusations against you or not pursue the violation as intended. You have the right to be represented by an attorney if you choose to reject NJP and proceed to a Court-Martial. The military lawyers at Crisp and Associates can defend you during this process, present witnesses on your behalf, and argue your side of the case in Court.
How can NJP affect your career?
If you are awarded NJP, the basis for the accusations can greatly impact your military career. At a minimum, the violations contained in your military record may affect your ability to be promoted. In many cases, the basis for the NJP may be used to begin administrative separation. The potential for a NJP to negatively impact your military career makes it essential that you consult an attorney who understands the UCMJ before that occurs. As soon as you suspect you are being considered for NJP, contact an experience military defense counsel.
At Crisp and Associates, we choose to aggressively defend our clients from the moment NJP is suspected. We are not reactive military lawyers. We believe your career and your future are too important not to protect.