Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) authorizes commanders to impose “Non-Judicial punishment” (NJP) for “minor” misconduct, such as petty theft, using marijuana, or showing up late for watch. The services use different terms for NJP, including “Article 15,” “Office Hours,” or “Captain’s Mast.” 


At NJP, the commander acts as prosecutor, defense counsel, judge and jury. For this reason, and unless you’re embarked on a vessel, you have the right to refuse NJP and request a court martial instead. If you accept NJP, you have the right to a personal appearance before the commander, the right to remain silent, the right to be accompanied by a spokesperson, the right to be informed of the evidence against you, the right to examine that evidence, and the right to present matters on your own behalf.  


NJP hearings are usually formal and speedy. You will usually be in dress uniform and report to a formal location where your commander and your chain of will be waiting. The commander will read from a script that has you reporting and outlines the evidence against you. Sometimes witnesses will be called and you’ll then have the opportunity to speak. The commander will then announce his or her finding and impose a sentence. If you receive a sentence, it will begin immediately.


The punishments meted out for an NJP offense depend upon the rank of the accused and the rank of the commander imposing it but generally are limited to restriction to certain specified limits, arrest in quarters, correctional custody, extra duties, forfeiture of pay, detention of pay and reduction in grade. Administrative separation from the service may follow NJP but is not a punishment awarded at NJP.  

The accused may appeal NJP to the commanders higher authority. This must be done in a timely manner and be based upon grounds that the NJP was either unjust or disproportionate to the offense. If done properly, NJP appeals offer a real chance of having a conviction overturned or a sentence lessened.  


You will likely be informed that you have the right to discuss the NJP with a military criminal defense attorney before accepting NJP and you should CERTAINLY do so. Your base legal office will have uniformed attorneys available to discuss the case with you. However, many of these offices have a policy preventing these attorneys from helping you decide whether you should accept NJP or refuse and request a court martial, limiting them to simply explaining your NJP rights to you.

But you need more than that. Many times, NJP is offered because the evidence against you is not good enough to result in a court martial conviction. Instead, the commander decides to send the case to NJP because the rules of evidence that would help you at a court martial, don’t apply at NJP. This is especially true when the charges involve drug offenses.

Therefore, you need a lawyer who can help you understand not only what will happen if you accept NJP, but what will happen if you refuse NJP. If your local base legal office can’t help you with this, an experienced civilian military attorney can assist you with this decision for little cost. 


You should also seek out military legal advice for your NJP appeal package. These packages should never be overlooked or simply “cut and pasted.” Commands may skip procedural steps, rely upon flimsy evidence, or impose an unlawful sentence, all factors that might result in your NJP being overturned. Having an experienced military attorney who can help you with your package could make a world of difference. Considering that NJP may “kill” your career or even result in the service processing you for early separation, you should ensure that you do everything to protect yourself.

At King Military Law, we have decades of experience in dealing with NJPs at all levels, from defending servicemembers at NJP, to advising commanders on NJP procedures, to filing appeals and even acting as the appellate officer’s legal advisor. We’re available to you 24/7. Please give us a call for a free consultation if you think we can help.

King Military Law: Decades of Experience in YOUR Corner–When Experience Matters Most 

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Leslie PuikLeslie Puik
01:03 07 May 23
There aren't enough words of high praise to express our appreciation for Don King of King Military Law. He and his very qualified staff Kasheta and Angela took care of our needs like we were their only clients. They are all highly professional, superb communicators, responsive, and thorough. They are caring, compassionate and patiently listen to and address every concern as though they were helping one of their family members. Don excels at helping others understand the processes of the law. He educates his clients so that they can navigate toward the best possible solution and outcome. We will be forever grateful for the entire team's effort to help our family through the most challenging time of our lives.I highly recommend King Military Law.
john puikjohn puik
11:57 05 May 23
Don fought hard for our son with passion and experience.My wife and I can't say enough good things about our experience with King Military Law. Don is an excellent communicator, patiently explaining every aspect of the case, keeping us informed throughout the process. It was obvious to us that his experience in the military law system was the most important benefit of our decision to hire him. The staff, Kasheta and Angela were incredible. Emails were returned promptly. All questions were answered without delay. I always felt like we were their only client. We were truly blessed to have found Don and his staff to help us with this matter.
Dakota GrammerDakota Grammer
21:49 09 Mar 23
Let me begin by saying Mr. King has saved my life. I hired Mr. King for defense in a Court Martial case. His entire team worked tirelessly to create a solid defense for me. They would even just have conversations with me to make sure my mental health was okay throughout the whole process, making sure I know my resources incase I needed help. Because of Mr. King and his team I got an amazing plea that would not have been possible without him. I would recommend anyone to Mr. King and his team. Thank you all again for everything you have done for me and helping me still have a life after such a stressful event!
06:14 28 Feb 23
I felt so hopeless until I found Don. The way that most of us service members aren’t entirely educated on our rights. Is appalling. What I was accused of is supposed to be a career killer. Something as simple as licking my finger tips while handling cash could’ve cost me everything. Don and LT Bassani both work in tandem in away that was so symbiotic you could’ve sworn they’ve worked together for decades. And a special and well deserved shoutout to Angela and Kasheta. They walked me through the process and practically held my hand the entire way. Not only that but they made myself and my witnesses feel comfortable. When it’s all said and done. This is the team you want on your side.
Kyp RidenhourKyp Ridenhour
19:05 05 Dec 22
Don King is as exceptional as his resume would have you believe. His knowledge of legal proceedings, and litigating skills were far above what I had even expected. His assistance was worth every penny. I could not have been happier with choosing King Military Law. Don and his team helped me through every part of the legal procedure that I was dealing with and if it had not been for his team I would not have been able to continue my career in the United States Marine Corps. Mr. King and his team were always able to help me and I would not ever recommend anyone else for help in a military law situation as Mr. King has more experience in military law and litigating than any prosecutor that the United States government would put up against you. His team will help you fight back any false charges and I would happily trust him and his team in any situation. My brother is a lawyer and he told me I was very lucky to find such an experienced lawyer to help me. Please reach out to KingMilitaryLaw for help if you are ever in need.
01:46 17 Nov 22
I had a great experience working with King Military Law. They are excellent when it comes to communication and understanding the law. I would truly recommend them to anyone who needs assistance on any legal issues.
Siddharth SwaminathanSiddharth Swaminathan
14:41 09 Nov 22
Simply put Don, Kasheta and the rest of king military law are amazing. They are worth every dollar and Don truly cares about each of one of his clients. He will work night and day for and there is no one better than Don in this business. I was facing a board of inquiry for a situation that had gotten so far out of hand. Don pointed out so many flaws in my case and stopped my situation before it made it to a BOI. I cant thank Don enough. I called Don over 20 times a day. He always answered my phone calls, was patient and was with me every step of the way keeping me calm and grounded. My only regret is I didnt call Don immediately at the first sign of trouble.
Pusha 392Pusha 392
01:17 03 Nov 22
Was in an overwhelming situation with the Navy, reached out for a consultation with Mr King, he explained potential outcomes and path that could be taken. I felt comfortable hiring him and his team. Mr Don and his are knowledgeable, effective, efficient and very understanding. Because of their help I’m able to continue my time in the Navy. Big shout to Angela Schlosser and Kasheta De La Garza, who work and assist Mr Don King
greg Meagreg Mea
04:22 12 Oct 22
I can’t recommend King Military Law enough ! I felt like I wasn’t just a case but an actual person. They were professional yet compassionate every step of the way. Answered every question with kindness and honesty. They are completely transparent an filled with knowledge . Which i think is what everyone should look for when thinking about hiring an attorney. They truly have your best interest at heart.
Gabe CarothersGabe Carothers
03:05 30 Jul 22
King military law truly cares, and will be by your side every single step of the way. If you are even thinking of calling them. Do It. They are true professionals who care. Thank you king military law.

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