Nonjudicial Punishment (Article 15/Office Hours/Mast)
Nonjudicial punishment goes by different names in different services (Article 15, Office Hours, Mast). Regardless, it is a way for Commanders to punish a servicemember quickly to maintain the good order and discipline. The imposing Commander acts as the Judge and the Jury. This can lead to abuse and unjust results.
The consequences of nonjudicial punishment can be severe. Servicemembers can lose rank, pay, be restricted to certain areas and be forced to perform extra duty. Equally as damaging, nonjudicial punishment in a servicemember’s record can be the basis for Administrative Separation and lead to promotion stagnation. For these reasons, a servicemember should be very concerned when informed that they are receiving nonjudicial punishment.
Servicemembers also have the option to reject nonjudicial punishment and demand a trial by Court-Martial. This decision should not be made lightly and a servicemember should always discuss this decision with an attorney before acting.
Why Representation Matters
Servicemembers are entitled military counsel (public defender) to help them prepare for and respond to nonjudicial punishment. Nonjudicial punishment is usually not a priority for a servicemember’s military counsel. They have very large populations to serve and will most likely prioritize their time with representing servicemembers at Courts-Martial and Administrative Separation Boards. A servicemember may have difficulty getting quality representation for nonjudicial punishment from their military counsel.
Servicemembers have the option to hire their own civilian counsel to help them prepare for and respond to nonjudicial punishment.
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