Non-Judicial Punishments 101

Non-Judicial Punishments (NJP) are specific limited punishments that are handed out for minor to medium-level disciplinary offenses by a commanding officer. Called “Captain’s Mast” or “Mast” in the Navy, “Article 15” in the Army and Air Force, and “Office Hours” in the Marine Corps, these punishments, while not severe, can range from a simple reprimand to a reduction in rank, correctional custody (on ships only), lost pay, extra assignments, and/or other restrictions.

An NJP is not equal to a criminal conviction (it is equivalent to a civil action), but is often noted in an individual’s service record. The process of assigning an NJP is governed by part five of the Manual for Courts-Martial and by each service branch’s internal regulations.

Whether it is a Captain’s Mast, Office Hours, or Article 15, the legal protections available to an service member subject to NJP proceedings are more plentiful than is the case for nonpunitive measures, but are less extensive than for courts-martial.

Captain’s Mast, Article 15, and Office Hours permit a commanding officer to (1) make inquiries into the facts surrounding the minor offense(s) that are alleged to have been committed by the service member, (2) afford the accused service member a hearing about the offense(s), and (3) dispose of such charges by dismissing the charges, imposing punishment under the provisions of Article 15, UCMJ, or referring the case to a court-martial.

William E. Cassara- Military Law Attorney

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