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Nonjudicial Punishment

Article 15 And Non-judicial Punishment (NJP)

Nonjudicial punishment is an administrative tool for a commander to punish a military member for alleged minor violations of the UCMJ. It can have severe consequences to a servicemember’s career. If you are facing nonjudicial punishment, contact Kral Military Defense for a free consultation.

What is Article 15?

Article 15, Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), allows a commander to administer punishment for alleged minor violations of the UCMJ without going through the court-martial process.

Proceedings under Article 15 are called different terms in different branches of the military. In the Army, Air Force, and Space Force, it is known as “Article 15”, while in the Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard it is known as “being NJP’d,” Captain’s Mast (or Admiral’s Mast), or Office Hours.

Offenses Punishable Under Article 15

Article 15, UCMJ, gives a commanding officer power to punish individuals for minor offenses normally not appropriate for a court-martial but more serious than administrative counseling.

NJP is reserved for “military specific” offenses and offenses that may also be civilian offenses, but are minor violations. Sleeping on duty, disobeying military orders, disrespect to superiors, and underage drinking are examples of disciplinary infractions usually punished under Article 15.

The circumstances surrounding the offense are factors for determining whether the charge is minor. For example, willful disobedience of an order during combat can have fatal consequences and be a serious matter, while willful disobedience of an order to report to the barbershop is not as serious an offense.

Part V of the Manual for Courts-Martial provides many of the rules that control nonjudicial punishment. It gives guidance on what is considered a minor offense:

“Whether an offense is minor depends on several factors: the nature of the offense and the circumstances surrounding its commission; the offender’s age, rank, duty assignment, record and experience; and the maximum sentence imposable for the offense if tried by general court-martial.”

DRB and XOI (Navy Only)

The Navy has procedures called a DRB (Disciplinary Review Board) and XOI (Executive Officer’s Inquiry) that are allowed, but not required, before NJP. At a DRB, expect a group of Chief Petty Officers to question you about the alleged offenses and anything else they want to ask you about. There is no standard way of recording what happens in a DRB, and commands do it very differently and sometimes not at all. It is extremely important to have advice before you go to DRB, so you know what to do for the best possible outcome. You have the right to remain silent at your DRB, though you will likely be pressured to make a statement and answer questions.

At XOI, the Executive Officer again asks you questions, and you again have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer any questions. Any differences in your statements between the DRB and XOI will be held against you. At KMD, we have experience preparing our clients for both a DRB and XOI. We have gotten cases dismissed at XOI, and we have developed strategies for DRB and XOI that led to our clients being found not guilty at NJP.


The first step of nonjudicial punishment is for the commander to “offer” a servicemember NJP. The commanding officer must tell the servicemember what the alleged misconduct is and notify the member of their rights under the UCMJ.

Along with the offer, some services will provide the servicemember the evidence, while some will not. Understanding the evidence against you is an important part of deciding whether you’ll accept nonjudicial punishment or turn it down. At KMD, we have developed a reputation and strategies that we leverage to obtain the evidence when your command won’t give it to you directly.

Military Attorney for Nonjudicial Punishment

In Air Force and Space Force Article 15 proceedings, you are provided the right to full representation by an Area Defense Counsel and there are timelines that give the Airman the chance to develop and present their defense. However, no Air Force Area Defense Counsel will have the level of experience as the attorneys at KMD.

In the Navy, Marine Corps, and Army, you do not have the right to full representation by a military defense counsel. In the Army, you will be afforded a group briefing after which you can request to speak to a TDS attorney. In the Navy, you can request a “PERSREP” appointment and in the Marine Corps, DSO (Defense Service Office) has walk-in hours.

You will speak to an attorney for approximately 30 minutes where they give you guidance, but they all have a “limited scope” of representation, meaning they cannot fully represent you throughout the entire process. Other than that appointment, you will be representing yourself.

Civilian Attorney for Nonjudicial Punishment

You have the right to be represented by a Civilian Defense Counsel in NJP cases. We have the ability to give you full, complete representation throughout the entire process. That means we not only advise you whether to accept or turn down NJP, but we help you write your response, draft a legal memo for your commanding officer tailored to your individual case and desired outcome, gather and present evidence, attend the NJP with you as your representative, and draft an appeal if you’re found guilty.

We have seen commands who will offer a Sailor or Marine nonjudicial punishment and tell them they have a very short period of time to respond. Getting in contact with an experienced civilian military defense attorney as fast as possible is very important. Even when there is a very short period of time to respond and it seems insurmountable, we know what to do and how to help you. Don’t wait to give us a call [HYPERLINK].

Can you turn down Nonjudicial Punishment?

When offered an Article 15, the servicemember has the right to accept NJP proceedings or to refuse the NJP and request a court-martial, as long as the person is not attached to a ship. This is a very important decision because it can impact your rank, pay, and any future administrative separation proceedings.

If the servicemember is attached to a ship – even if they have been dry docked for years, they do not have the right to turn down the nonjudicial punishment. This is the reason it is all the more important to have someone on your side helping you through the process. KMD takes our roles as your nonjudicial punishment attorney very seriously, and we will fight on your behalf.

Because you have a right to a spokesperson at Nonjudicial Punishment, we can come with you to your personal appearance. We have appeared with our clients in front of Commanding Generals and at Admiral’s Mast. We will go with you to your ship for Mast. We have been on aircraft carriers, destroyers, amphibious assault ships, and more. We were recently told by a Navy JAG, “In 13 years, I have never seen a Civilian Defense Counsel come on board a ship,” and Steph’s response was “I do this all the time.” You do not have to do this alone.

Turning Down Nonjudicial Punishment

If you request a court-martial, you cannot receive NJP anymore. You are basically putting the ball back in your CO’s court. They have to decide if they will dismiss the case, take other administrative action including administrative discharge processing, or take you to court-martial. The likelihood that an Article 15 or NJP turn down is taken to court-martial varies between the different services and commands, making it all the more important to get advice from an experienced military defense attorney before making the decision to accept or refuse an Article 15/NJP.

Accepting an Article 15

If you accept NJP/Article 15 proceedings, it is not an admission of guilt. Instead, you’re making the choice to have your commanding officer determine if you are guilty or not guilty of the alleged offenses. You are making the choice to allow your commander to act as your judge and jury.

During the personal appearance, your commanding officer must listen to your presentation of your defense. You can present witnesses or other evidence to show why you are not guilty and/or why NJP should be dismissed. As a spokesperson, we can make arguments on your behalf.

After presentation of your case, the commander decides whether you are guilty or not. If you are not guilty, the NJP is dismissed. If you are found guilty, the commander will determine the punishment.

Your rights in nonjudicial punishment

You have rights in nonjudicial punishment proceedings. Among those rights are the right to the presumption of innocence, the right to examine all the evidence relied upon in considering the nonjudicial punishment, the right to present matters in defense, extenuation and mitigation orally, in writing, or both, the right to present witnesses, and the right to a spokesperson.

At KMD, we have seen countless times that a command will try to deprive our clients of those rights, ignore those rights, or take other actions to make it difficult for you to exercise those rights. We will fight for you. We don’t settle for less and neither should you.

Article 15 Punishments

For enlisted personnel, the range of punishments typically imposed under Article 15 involves reduction in grade, restriction, extra duty, and forfeitures of pay.

Generally, E-4 or below can be reduced to E-1. Reduction for E-5, E-6, and E-7 and above varies depending upon service. For example, in the Navy, Chiefs cannot be reduced in grade. In the Marine Corps, SSgt and above cannot be reduced in grade. Other restrictions apply depending on who the person imposing nonjudicial punishment is.

Punishments are different for officers. Officers cannot be reduced in rank. Additionally follow-on administrative actions for an officer can be very significant. It can result in mandatory processing for separation and a requirement to show cause.

Article 15 Appeals

If you are found guilty, you have the right to appeal. Grounds for appeal can include: (1) not enough evidence was presented to find you guilty; (2) the punishment imposed was too severe; or (3) the commander did not follow proper procedures. When reviewing your appeal, the commander can overturn a finding of guilt, lessen the punishment, or keep the punishment the same. Your punishment cannot be increased during an appeal.

Administrative Actions

There are a variety of administrative actions that can follow nonjudicial punishment. How your case is presented at NJP can drastically impact the results of those actions. Read our information about administrative separation and courts-martial to learn more.

Call us right now for your free consultation.

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*Please note, KMD does not handle cases involving the Department of Veterans Affairs, disability claims, or family law matters.

My local Military Defense Counsel is very short staffed so I had trouble getting a hold of them. Not wanting to wait I contacted Ms. Danielle Espinosa over the weekend and she was able to help review and discuss my response with me before it was due Monday. She was extremely knowledgeable, cut the fluff and told me like it was. I recommend anyone serious about the future of their Military Career to work with this team. Thank you for your help!
When I retained Ms. Kral, I was a nervous wreck. As she worked with me over the course of 18 months, she was compassionate and was able to assure me that I would have a future. Even my command JAG assured me I’d be alright when I hired her. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome with my case. Ms. Kral should be your choice if you need a military defense attorney.
Chad S.
Chad S.
Abbigayle Hunter and her legal team, especially Danielle Espinosa, were exceptional! The communication was prompt, professional, and thorough. From the moment we reached out to them, they showed a genuine interest in understanding our case and providing us with the best legal representation possible.Abbigayle Hunter and Danielle Espinosa, went above and beyond to ensure that we were kept informed throughout the entire legal process. They promptly responded to our emails and phone calls, addressing any concerns or questions we had. Their attention to detail and extensive knowledge of the law instilled confidence in us that we were in capable hands.Not only did Abbigayle Hunter and her team provide us with excellent communication, but they also displayed a remarkable level of expertise. They meticulously examined every aspect of our case, leaving no stone unturned. Their dedication and commitment to our case were evident in the meticulous research they conducted, the thorough documentation they prepared, and the persuasive arguments they presented.Abbigayle Hunter not only possessed an impressive understanding of the law but also had excellent negotiation skills. Her tirelessly advocated on our behalf, ensuring that our interests were protected and our rights were upheld. Their ability to navigate complex legal matters and maneuver through any obstacles that arose was truly remarkable.
Rufus Byrd
Rufus Byrd
Stephanie and her team were AMAZING! I found her through a mutual friend and she handled my case with care and compassion. Even her team checked on me, answered all my questions I had, overall she made sure everything was token care of during the ENTIRE process! When she told me “don’t you worry, that’s my job” I truly believe her and in the end she got the results that I am so grateful for! Hopefully I won’t have to go through the process again but if I have to she will most definitely be the woman I WILL call on! Thank you so much Stephanie and Danielle you both made this process a lot less stressful with your knowledge and compassion towards me and my case!!!
Steph and her team worked diligently to ensure all evidence or lack there of was thoroughly examined. Her knowledge and experience within the military justice system gave me piece of mind throughout the process as she was well versed in the way everything played out. My family and I are grateful for the hard work and professionalism displayed by everyone on her team. Thank you!
Jonathon Lynch
Jonathon Lynch
Hiring Steph has been the greatest thing for my career. In the last year alone I have had horrible encounters with my immediate chain of command and twice I had the best outcome given the circumstances. I highly recommend Steph.
Eva Aguilar
Eva Aguilar
Steph was the first and clear choice to handle my ADSEP board. I was facing serious allegations, which she handled with professionalism while keeping me posted along the way. Her expertise in UCMJ matters is second to none. Without her I would have probably lost my retirement benefits.
Called on behalf of a veteran who is terminally ill regarding a discharge upgrade and spoke to their assistant Christian. Christian was so unbelievably rude and spoke to me like I'm an idiot when he was unable to answer the questions I had about their services and the process. The level of disrespect from him totally caught me off guard given the nature of work the office is supposed to be doing. What's more upsetting is the lack of empathy that he displayed during our conversation. Unfortunately, I can't not speak on the level of service from the attorneys since we decided to go with someone else but Christian either needs to undergo more training or he needs to be replaced.
Desiree M.
Desiree M.
Stephanie is very experienced and a great attorney.
Jameel Yusuf
Jameel Yusuf
There are many things that I could say about this particular law firm, but instead of going into the weeds on my particular case, I feel as though brevity would be the best choice here. I was primarily represented by Ms. Abbigayle Hunter, and in short, I believe the representation by Ms. Hunter was above reproach. I couldn’t have asked for a better legal professional to handle the complexities of my particular case. She was transparent, punctual, and actually made me feel as though she was personally invested, despite the fact that she had already been paid for representation. She didn’t sugarcoat hard truths and was very up front about all different aspects relating to my case. It was comforting in a way that she was also a fellow service member, and it made me feel as though she took this case to heart and it added another level of drive to the case. Ms. Hunter has a certain tenacity in the courtroom that I found very refreshing to witness, and I would strongly recommend her to anyone else seeking legal advice. Would actively seek to be represented by her again, though also hoping it’s never needed.
Tim Malikie
Tim Malikie
Outstanding!!!! She's very smart, knows her job, and communicates with you all the time with the best of her knowledge. I highly recommend Kral Military Defense!!!
Myron Stephens
Myron Stephens
After my command refused to give me due process, I was lost for words and truly had no where to turn. A shipmate referred me to Steph and it was the best possible recommendation I have ever received. Reliable, expert, professional and overall just a great person. She never lost sight of my case and would check in on me to ensure I was doing good personally. I highly recommend her services to anyone who may have a legal issue. At minimum, request a consultation. I can assure that you will not be dissatisfied!
Vincent Hurtado
Vincent Hurtado
Highly recommend Steph! Thank you for all your hard work and fighting for righteousness. My family and I will be forever grateful!
Selena Hurtado
Selena Hurtado
Great team! After hiring this legal team i was pleased with their work and their ability to go above and beyond resulting in a finding of not guilty.
Tyson Smith
Tyson Smith
Very easy to talk to. Will get you the best outcome there is
I wish you could give more than 5 stars. She deserves 10!! This was a huge decision for our child, but she was worth every penny and more. As a mom I was really concerned about him spending the money on an attorney since you never know what you’re going to get. Our child mentioned this to Stephanie and she called me to answer all my questions. She went above and beyond what was required of her, not just with the phone call but with everything she did. The case went on for longer than we had ever imagined. She never wavered in her dedication. I was honestly shocked at just how hard she worked. If only I could express in words the heart felt gratitude, we feel towards her. She fought so hard and we knew we could trust decisions she made. When ever our child would update us, we would ask what Stephanie thought. We never could have imagined finding an attorney who we trust as much as we trust her. I don’t believe you will find an attorney who will fight as hard for you as she will. I consider her a part of our family and am so very blessed to have gotten to know her. She’s an amazing attorney and an even more amazing human being.
Shelly B.
Shelly B.
Stephanie was a great attorney as well as her team they helped me through my entire CID investigation and got me a no basis separation. Every question I had was answered in the upmost professional manner. I highly recommend that you retain her defense team for any case that you have. She’s attacks every case in a manner that leaves everyone with a reasonable doubt.
This was a life changing decision.I spent hours searching for and calling several attorneys. Some didn't give me the time of day, others just seemed cold. Mrs. Kral was the only attorney I called who actually seemed to care. And not only that but she listened me and gave an honest opinion. Usually you feel that attorneys only care about money but I never once felt that from Mrs. Kral. She took a personal interest in my case and brought not only her extensive knowledge of the law, but also her fierce attitude and relentless perseverance. She never missed a beat and always had a way forward. She also has excellent communication skills and took the time to explain everything to me at every step. I felt hopeless until we met. Now I can move on with my life and move forward with everything behind me because of how valiantly she fought. I truly think that if you decide to choose Kral Military Defense to fight for you then you'll never feel disappointed. If I could give more than 5 stars then I would. Because she's not like other attorneys. She will always have your back and keep your best interests at heart. If you take away anything from this review, let it be this: You want someone behind you that is willing to fight for you as if you were their own and also has the strength and knowledge to be successful. Don't pass up the opportunity to increase your chances and decrease your stress.
Evan Giancola
Evan Giancola
The team at Kral Military Defense is very approachable, knowledgeable, and dedicated. I was facing an LOR due to the results of an investigation conducted by the military. The team at Kral Military Defense reviewed the report of investigation and was able to craft an excellent rebuttal to the charges. Ultimately, the leadership decided to rescind the LOR . The whole team, Steph, Danielle, ,Abby, and Chris were very responsive to my questions and requests through the whole process. If you ever find yourself in any sort of legal situation in the military I highly recommend that you contact them and put them in your corner!
Stephanie was very knowledgeable and despite me being so anxious about my case helped me through it and got an innocent verdict within 6 minutes of the board being adjourned. So very grateful for her and my JAG for helping me out and highly recommend hiring Stephanie especially if you are military.
Andrew Compton
Andrew Compton
This law firm it worth every penny. Mrs. Danielle is an amazing women. She is kind and warm hearted and professional. She will make sure she understands you very well and will fights tooth and nail for you. Mrs. Abby is phenomenal. Mrs. Abby's Knowledge is deep and spot on. Mrs. Abby knows what to do and if she's not sure about UCMJ she'll make sure she does within your next call. Both these ladies are top-tier lawyer and paralegal. And I will always recommend these two to others for the duration of their long careers. Christian was a great guy and made sure all information was pushed up to them in a timely manner he's a hidden gem. They fight the good fight. Do not doubt them and work with them and they'll do their best and more.
Peter Petracca
Peter Petracca
Kral Military Defense has been absolutely amazing to me. Their whole team is very easy to work with and does such an amazing job. Kral defense was referred to me by JAGS I used to work with and I would absolutely 110% recommend and refer them to anyone in need of assistance. They have made my whole situation stress free and easy.
Kyle Lewis
Kyle Lewis
Steph and her team helped me to get a positive outcome during my NJP process. As soon I heard my case was going to captain mast, I googled military lawyer's and her name came up. With her experience as a former active duty Jag, her team truly understands the military system and what commands can and cannot do. With just a week to prepare for the NJP, her team got me templates that made the process easier. Her wording in her official letter to my command made it hard for the command to process several charges. This team is professional and know what they are doing. Hopefully I am never in this position again, but if so Kral Military Defense will be my first call.
James Johnson
James Johnson
The Kralmilitary defense firm saved my career and my family today! I have never experienced such a graceful, tactful, intelligent person in my life. She literally destroyed the prosecutor on everything and went tooth and nail to fight for my rights and career. I’m forever indebt to this firm. The Paralegal have lived the military life so they fully understand and know how to support. This firm should add 5 more stars because the service she gives 5 stars is not enough.
ron bobo
ron bobo
I am blessed to have Abby as my lawyer with Danielle as her paralegal during my ADSEP board. My retirement was on the line since I was just a few months away from it. The Kral team worked my case as true professionals. Since they all have a military background in the Air Force. Knowing military law in all branches is what they do best. Abby even worked with the military jag I requested to represent me as well. She now continues to do follow ups to make sure there’s no resistance from my command after we had won the board unanimously. If you feel like your command is out to get you without the facts, the Kral team will provide all the receipts to defend you.Joseph
Joe C
Joe C

About The Firm

Kral Military Defense defends members of America's military throughout the world. We do not maintain physical office space in the traditional sense. Instead, we offer secure video and telephone consultations and meet with current clients, as needed, at home and abroad.

Office Location

3111 Camino Del Rio N.
Suite 400
San Diego, CA 92108

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Nothing on this site should create an expectation of any particular outcome or result. Every case is unique.

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