Experienced Military Defense Attorneys Providing Representation for Non-Judicial Punishment Cases

Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice authorizes commanders to discipline service members without having to convene, or put together, a court-martial. Hence, it is also called non-judicial punishment (Captain’s Mast in the Navy) because it does not involve the judicial system.  If you are facing non-judicial punishment, your rank, pay and your career are at stake.  Do not waive your rights to consult with an experienced military attorney.  They can talk to you about whether to accept the Article 15 proceeding or whether it is in your best interest to turn it down and demand trial by court-martial.  In today’s military, anyone who is found guilty at an Article 15 proceeding will very likely face immediate discharge from the service because of zero tolerance policies, military drawdowns, QMPs and selective re-enlistment.

The best chance to save your military career if you are facing non-judicial punishment is to contact an experienced military defense lawyer at Crisp and Associates Military Law. Our attorneys have helped numerous military members obtain acquittals at non-judicial proceedings.

THE PROCESS

Who can be punished and how severely at an Article 15 varies with the position of the commander.

However, the maximum punishments any commander can administer are:

  • Reduction to the lowest enlisted grade (E-4 and below). For E-5 and above, the commander may reduce the service member to the next lower pay grade if the commander occupies a position that could promote the service member to the grade from which they are being reduced. For example, the commander has to be able to promote a service member to E-8 if he wants to reduce an E-8 to E-7.
  • Correctional custody: Correctional custody may include extra duties, fatigue duties, or hard labor. It may also include confinement in a confinement facility (of not more than 30 consecutive days). This punishment may not be used in combination with restriction or extra duties.
  • Forfeiture of ½ months pay per month for not more than 2 months.
  • Extra duty for not more than 45 days.
  • Restriction to a specified area for not more than 60 consecutive days. The combination of restriction and extra duties may not be more than what is allowable for extra duties.
  • Confinement on bread and water or diminished rations for not more than 3 consecutive days if service member is attached to or embarked on a vessel. This punishment may not be used in combination with correctional custody, extra duties or restriction.

Additional restrictions based on the rank of the accused or the rank and position of the commander are as follows:

On commissioned and warrant officers: 

  • Any commander may restrict to specified area for not more than 30 days.
  • Those officers exercising the authority to hold a general court-martial, a general or flag officer or their principal assistant: A principal assistant is an individual authorized to receive a delegation of article 15 authority by the regulations of the Secretary. May arrest in quarters for not more than 30 consecutive days, forfeiture of not more than ½ months pay per month for 2 months, restriction to a specified area for not more than 60 consecutive days.

By a commander in the rank of major or lieutenant commander or their principal assistant:

  • Reduction to the lowest enlisted grade (E-4 and below). For E-5 and above, the commander may reduce the service member to the next lower pay grade if the commander occupies a position that could promote the service member to the grade from which they are being reduced.
  • Correctional custody of not more than 30 consecutive days.
  • Forfeiture of ½ months pay per month for not more than 2 months
  • Extra duty for not more than 45 days.
  • Restriction to a specified area for not more than 60 consecutive days.
  • Confinement on bread and water or diminished rations for not more than 3 consecutive days if service member is attached to or embarked on a vessel.

Just because a service member is facing an Article 15 proceeding does not mean the commander has to continue with the proceeding, convict the service member or give the maximum allowable punishment. Crisp and Associates Military Law has successfully negotiated with commanders the outright dismissal of the Article 15 proceeding or gotten the service member acquitted of the charges. Early intervention and investigation are key to any successful outcome.

CASE RESULTS

At Captain’s Mast Navy E-3 found not guilty of unlawful drug use.  Attorney Gordon’s discovery of exculpatory evidence and knowledge of urinalysis program and drug testing procedures enabled him to demonstrate client’s innocence.


Army 1LT acquitted at Article 15 proceeding at Camp Shelby Mississippi.  During demobilization, a 1LT was accused of hazing and abuse of subordinates while in theater.  Attorney Crisp presented multiple witnesses to contradict the allegations of the AR 15-6 officer and successfully demonstrate the good military character and excellent leadership skills of this Platoon Leader.