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Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP)

NJP known as Article 15 in the Army and Air Force, Mast in the Navy and Coast Guard, and Office Hours in the Marine Corps is a provision of the UCMJ which authorizes punishment of service members for minor offenses. It is referred to as non-judicial because the punishment is imposed by a commander not through a court martial proceeding. The purpose of NJP is to allow commanders to resolve issues of minor misconduct quickly and efficiently, thus maintaining the good order and discipline of their units. While a punitive action, NJP is supposed to function as correcting, educating, and reforming without the stigma of a court martial. In today’s military however a guilty finding at an NJP is often followed by an administrative separation action resulting in discharge. Punishment in NJP depends on the rank of the accused as well as the level of NJP. Possible punishments may include: admonishment or reprimand, restriction, extra duty, forfeiture of pay, reduction in rank or correctional custody.

The decision to impose NJP is completely the commander’s. However a service member may refuse to accept NJP and demand trial by court martial. (Note that this “turn down” is not available to Navy and Marine Corps who are attached to or embarked on a vessel.) By accepting to proceed by NJP a service member is not admitting guilt. Rather they are agreeing to let the commander decide whether they are guilty, and if guilty, what punishment should be imposed. Similarly to an SCM, if a service member turns down NJP the command may decide to send the case to a court martial, dispose of the case administratively, or dismiss it entirely. The normal response is to send it to Court Martial.

All services allow those facing NJP to consult with a military defense attorney. While an accused in not afforded a military defense attorney in the NJP proceeding before the commander, the defense attorney will be able to advise the accused person about how to proceed and put a case together. The attorney will also be able to advise the accused about whether or not it is a good idea to turn down the NJP. Note: it is extremely important that before objecting to NJP, an accused actually speak to military defense counsel. They should be considered the first line of defense in any NJP proceeding. Our office will consult with accused facing an NJP but only if they have personally met with or spoken to a military defense attorney first.

Tacoma Criminal Defense Attorneys

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The team at Krupa & Clark are excited to announce some new changes in our practice.  Steven Krupa will be leaving the firm to explore new opportunities effective June 30, 2020.  As of June 1, 2020, the name of the firm will be changed to the Law Offices of Michael Clark.  The firm will continue to focus on helping people who have been injured through the negligence of others, as well as other matters. The team, and especially Michael Clark, want to thank Steven for his years of dedicated service to his clients and the greater bar association, as well as for his friendship. We are proud of our association with Steve and look forward to seeing what the next chapter has in store for him.

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