Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP) / Captain's Mast / Office Hours / Article 15
If you are suspected of a “minor offense” under the UCMJ, your command may offer you NJP. Your commanding officer has wide discretion to determine what qualifies as a “minor offense.” But you have an absolute right to refuse NJP and demand trial by court-martial (*except if you are currently attached to or embarked in a vessel). Depending on your rank, character of service, and number of years in service, there are pros and cons of each choice. And there can be very strategic considerations when deciding to accept NJP or demand trial by court-martial. You are usually permitted to speak with an attorney before making this decision. If given the opportunity, you should always talk to attorney before deciding whether to accept NJP or demand trial by court-martial.
The punishments at NJP are much more limited than at a court-martial. Punishments authorized at NJP are forfeiture of pay, restriction to certain specified limits, extra duties, correctional custody, reduction in pay grade, and others. Service members above certain pay grades may not be reduced in rank. Confinement in a brig or jail is not authorized for NJP. If a service member feels that his punishment at NJP was unjust or disproportionate to the offense, he may appeal to the next superior authority but must do so in writing. An attorney is usually beneficial in preparing such an appeal.
Contact the lawyers at Ayotte Carmichael Ellis & Brock, PLLC at 703-684-7908 to address your legal matter promptly.