Understanding Article 15 UCMJ

Non-judicial punishment (NJP), also known as “Article 15”, “Captain’s Mast”, or “Office Hours” in the U.S. military, is an informal disciplinary measure for violations of that are minor in nature. Although NJP is an administrative process for minor offenses, acceptance of NJP can have a serious impact on your military careerYou have the right to consult with an attorney prior to any NJP proceeding.  

Navigating the NJP Process and Your Rights

Commanding officers have the authority to impose non-judicial punishment article 15 on service members under their command.


Punishment limitations based on the officer imposing NJP: 

  • Summarized:  14 days extra duties, restriction, oral reprimand 
  • Company Grade (Company-Level):  Restriction 14 days, 14 days  extra duties, 7 days loss of pay, reduction in rank.  
  • Field Grade (Battalion-Level): Restriction for 60 days, 45 Extra duties, loss of ½ pay per month for 2 months, written reprimand, reduction in rank. 
  • General/Flag Officer:  Same as field-grade for enlisted. For officers: Reprimand, 60 days restriction or 30 days arrest in quarters. Forfeiture of ½ month’s pay for 2 months. 



The service member is notified of the charges and intent to impose NJP. A hearing or Article 15 hearing” is conducted, during which the service member may present evidence and witnesses on their behalf.  The commander may ask if the service member pleads guilty or not guilty to any or all charges.  A finding of guilt is based on the “preponderance of the evidence” a lower standard than at court-martial. 


Service members have certain rights under non-judicial punishment article 15, including to: remain silent; review evidence; consult with legal counsel; and appeal any findings or punishment imposed. You can have a spokesperson and that spokesperson can be a civilian attorney. 


A record of the NJP any punishment imposed is placed in the service member’s official military personnel file. This record can have a significant impact on promotions and career advancement.  


Service members have the right to appeal the decision to the higher commander—but it must be timely submitted (usually within 5 days).  


The commander who imposed the NJP, a successor in command, or the next superior authority may suspend, mitigate, remit, or set aside any punishment imposed.  

How Our Team Can Assist You

Every case is unique and depends on careful consideration of the allegations, supporting evidence, and your personal circumstances. Specific procedures and regulations governing non-judicial punishment can vary between different branches of the military and even within different units.

Our team of non-judicial punishment article 15 attorneys are well-versed in every branch of the military and their unique regulations and processes for handling NJP cases. We can review your case, prepare for the hearing, advocate at your proceeding, or submit a post-NJP appeal or clemency request

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Frequently Asked Questions

It is suggested you seek an attorney the moment you are notified of possible disciplinary action. There is a wide range of disciplinary action a service member might face, and the consequences of those actions vary greatly. A military law attorney can discuss the possible consequences, and how best to proceed in your particular case.  

Service members have the right to always remain silent. This right is listed in Article 31(b) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The natural inclination is to explain why you are not guilty of the allegation. However, the military will always try to use the statement against the service member. For this reason, we always advise clients to exercise their right to remain silent under Article 31(b). The military cannot use your right to remain silent against you.  

You always have the right to consult with an attorney. Depending of the type of investigation or disciplinary action, you may also have the right to have an attorney present with you. It is best to discuss your particular situation with a military law attorney to understand if that right applies to you. 

Yes, each one of the branches has a Court of Criminal Appeals. If you receive either a punitive discharge or in excess of 1 year of confinement, you have the right to an automatic appeal. Just like at the Court-Martial, you will have be detailed a military appellate defense counsel.  

Yes, most service members will be entitled to either an administrative separation board (or, if an officer, a Board of Inquiry). Each branch requires the service member to have been in a certain number of years before they can request to appear before a Board. If you are entitled to a Board, you will have the right to appear with a defense counsel, and present a defense before three Board members. 

 It depends on what the legal issue, and how you are able to challenge the legal issue. The military law attorneys at FPG have represented service members at trial that resulted in a not-guilty verdict. These clients were able to continue their military career as though the Court-Martial never happened.

Speak with An Article 15 UCMJ Attorney today