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UCMJ Article 15 - Almost Everything You Need to Know

Written by: Federal Practice Group
Written by: Federal Practice Group

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UCMJ Article 15 is a form of non-judicial punishment that commanders use to promote good order and discipline without going to a trial by court-martial. When faced with a UCMJ Article 15, Servicemembers have a right to demand trial by court-martial, to appeal the non-judicial punishment, or to accept it. Their demand to have a court-martial terminates the non-judicial proceedings. When they appeal it, the punishment may not be increased, and the appeal goes to the next superior authority. Their acceptance means that they will accept the punishment.

Beyond Reasonable Doubt: The punishment under UCMJ Article 15 is much lower than at a court-martial for the same misconduct. Also, confinement is not an option under the non-judicial punishment. However, the standard of proof for both is the same – beyond reasonable doubt. Sometimes, commanders may feel that there is not enough evidence for a court-martial, so they decide to impose a UCMJ Article 15. Servicemembers should review all the facts and considerations, and consult with an attorney, if necessary, before making the decision because the Article 15 will become a part of their official file and may affect their career opportunities in the military and civilian life

Statute of Limitations: Often, commanders forget that the statute of limitations for non-judicial punishment is 2 years. This means that not judicial punishment may not be administered for misconduct which was committed more than 2 years before the date of the UCMJ Article 15 punishment. There are several exceptions under UCMJ Article 43(d).

No Double Punishment: Once UCMJ Article 15 punishment is imposed, a commander may not impose a second UCMJ Article 15 punishment for the same misconduct. However, the commander may decide to court-martial the Servicemember for the same misconduct.

Only Commanders: Only commanders or officers in charge are authorized to impose UCMJ Article 15 punishment. Other individuals are normally not allowed to impose the non-judicial punishment.

There are 3 types of UCMJ Article 15 punishment:

Type Punishment
Summarized extra duty for 14 days
restriction for 14 days
oral reprimand or admonition
Company Grade extra duty for 14 days
restriction for 14 days
oral reprimand or admonition
forfeiture of seven days base pay
reduction in rank of one grade (E-4 & below only)
Field Grade extra duty for 45 days
restriction for 60 days (maximum of 45 days if combined with extra duty)
oral reprimand or admonition
forfeiture of one-half base pay per month for two months
reduction in rank to E-1 (E-4 and below) or reduction in rank of one grade (E-5 & E-6 only)

For more questions, personal consultation, or other issues, contact military law attorneys at The Federal Practice Group. This information is not legal advice and does not substitute your need to consult with an attorney.

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