Can I be tried at a court-martial for something that I already received Nonjudicial Punishment for?
Yes you can. It is not “double jeopardy” to face a court-martial for the exact same offense you already faced and were found guilty of at a NJP or an Article 15 hearing. However, in 1989, in U.S. v. Pierce, the Court of Military Appeals (the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces’ (CAAF) predecessor) directed that a servicemember facing this situation must receive credit for the sentence he already served for that offense. The reasoning is so a servicemember is not punished twice for the same offense. However, how this credit is applied makes a difference. Recently, a military judge applied the credit to the court-martial sentence as he was giving it (the adjudged sentence) instead of directing that it be applied to the sentence that is later approved by the convening authority (the approved sentence). The result was that the servicemember really received no credit because the adjudged confinement sentence, even with the 2 month confinement credit applied, was higher (38 months) than the sentence agreed to in the pretrial agreement (24 months). Therefore, the servicemember received 24 months confinement with no later relief. If the two month Pierce credit had been later applied to the approved sentence instead, the servicemember would have received only 22 months confinement. For this reason, CAAF has agreed to hear oral argument on this issue next Wednesday. In addition to hearing argument about whether the court-martial military judge was wrong to apply the Pierce credit to the adjudged sentence instead of the approved sentence, CAAF will also hear argument about whether a servicemember should regain the pay he lost due to the Article 15 reduction in rank. The military justice system is complex and if you are facing a court-martial you truly need someone with experience who understands what arguments should be brought on your behalf. You need a strong, experienced advocate both at the court-martial level and at the appellate level. I have that experience and I will know what arguments will get you the best results. This is your life, do not trust it to just anyone. To speak to an experienced court- martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.