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Article 15, UCMJ Nonjudicial Punishment: Authorized Punishments at NJP

Authorized Punishments at NJP

The maximum imposable punishment in any Article 15, UCMJ, proceeding is limited by several factors, including the grade of the officer imposing NJP, whether the officer imposing NJP is a “commanding officer" or “officer in charge," whether the accused in an officer or enlisted person, and whether the accused in attached to or embarked in a vessel. The maximum punishment limitations discussed below apply to each NJP action, and not to each offense. Note also, there is a policy that all known offenses of which the accused is suspected should ordinarily be considered at a single article 15 hearing.

Maximum Punishments and Limitations

Officer accused. If punishment is imposed by officers in the following grades, the limits are as indicated below.

By officer exercising general court-martial jurisdiction or a flag/general officer in command, or designated principal assistant:

(1) Punitive admonition or reprimand.

(2) Arrest in quarters: not more than 30 days.

(3) Restriction to limits: not more than 60 days.

(4) Forfeiture of pay: not more than 1/2 of one month's pay per month for two months.

By officers O-4 to O-6:

(1) Admonition or reprimand.

(2) Restriction: not more than 30 days.

By officers O-1 to O-3:

(1) Admonition or reprimand.

(2) Restriction: not more than 15 days.

By officer in charge: none (Only a "Commanding Officer" can impose article 15 punishment on an officer).

Enlisted Accused

By commanding officers in grades O-4 and above

(1) Admonition or reprimand.

(2) Confinement on bread and water/diminished rations: imposable only on grades E-3 and below, attached to or embarked in a vessel, for not more than 3 days (USN and USMC only).

(3) Correctional custody: not more than 30 days.

(4) Forfeiture: not more than 1/2 of one month's pay per month for two months.

(5) Reduction: one grade, not imposable on E-7 and above (Navy, Army, and Air Force) or on E-6 and above (Marine Corps).

(6) Extra duties: not more than 45 days.

(7) Restriction: not more than 60 days.

By commanding officers in grades O-3 and below or any commissioned officer in charge (Marine Corps and Navy Only)

(1) Admonition or reprimand.

(2) Confinement on bread and water / diminished rations: not more than 3 days and only on grades E-3 and below attached to or embarked in a vessel (USN and USMC only).

(3) Correctional custody: not more than 7 days.

(4) Forfeiture: not more than 7 days' pay.

(5) Reduction: to next inferior pay grade; not imposable on E-7 and above (Navy, Army, and Air Force) or E-6 and above (Marine Corps), if rank from which demoted is within the promotion authority of the OIC.

(6) Extra duties: not more than 14 days.

(7) Restriction: not more than 14 days.

Nature of the Article 15, UCMJ Punishments

Admonition and reprimand. Punitive censure for officers must be in writing, although it may be either oral or written for enlisted personnel. It should be noted that reprimand is considered more severe than admonition.

Arrest in quarters. The punishment is imposable only on officers. It is a moral restraint, as opposed to a physical restraint. It is similar to restriction, but has much narrower limits. The limits of arrest are set by the officer imposing the punishment and may extend beyond quarters. The term “quarters" includes military and private residences. The officer may be required to perform his regular duties as long as they do not involve the exercise of authority over subordinates.

Restriction. Restriction also is a form of moral restraint. Its severity depends upon the breadth of the limits as well as the duration of the restriction. If restriction limits are drawn too tightly, there is a real danger that they may amount to either confinement or arrest in quarters, which in the former case cannot be imposed as NJP and in the latter case is not an authorized punishment for enlisted persons. As a practical matter, restriction means that an accused will be restricted to the limits of the base except where the use of recreational facilities might be further restricted. Restriction and arrest are normally imposed by a written order detailing the limits thereof and usually require the accused to log in at certain specified times during the restraint. Navy regulations, provide that an officer placed in the status of arrest or restriction shall not be confined to his room unless the safety or the discipline of the ship requires such action.

Forfeiture. A forfeiture applies to basic pay and to sea or foreign duty pay, but not to incentive pay, allowances for subsistence or quarters, etc. “Forfeiture" means that the accused forfeits monies due him in compensation for his military service only; it does not include any private funds. This distinguishes forfeiture from a "fine," which may only be awarded by courts-martial. The amount of forfeiture of pay should be stated in whole dollar amounts, not in fractions, and indicate the number of months affected (e.g., "to forfeit $50.00 pay per month for two months"). Where a reduction is also involved in the punishment, the forfeiture must be premised on the new lower rank, even if the reduction is suspended.

Extra duties. Various types of duties may be assigned, in addition to routine duties, as punishment. Part V, para. 5c(6), MCM (2008 ed.), however, prohibits extra duties which constitute a known safety or health hazard, which constitute cruel and unusual punishment, or which are not sanctioned by the customs of the service involved. Additionally, when imposed upon a petty or noncommissioned officer (E-4 and above), the duties cannot be demeaning to his rank or position.

Reduction in grade. In the Navy and Marine Corps, regulations limit reduction in grade to one grade only. In the Army and Air Force, personnel in grades of E-5 and above can only be reduced by one grade, but personnel in grades of E-4 and below may be reduced to the lowest enlisted grade.

Correctional custody. Correctional custody is a form of physical restraint during either duty or non-duty hours, or both, and may include hard labor or extra duty. Awardees may perform military duty, but not watches, and cannot bear arms or exercise authority over subordinates. Time spent in correctional custody is not “lost time." In the Navy and Marine Corps, correctional custody cannot be imposed on grades E-4 and above.

Confinement on bread and water or diminished rations. This punishment can be utilized only if the accused is attached to or embarked in a vessel. The punishment involves physical confinement and is tantamount to solitary confinement because contact is allowed only with authorized personnel. A medical officer must first certify in writing that the accused will suffer no serious injury and that the place of confinement will not be injurious to the accused. This punishment cannot be imposed upon grades E-4 and above. Confinement on bread and water or diminished rations is not authorized in the Coast Guard.

If punishment is imposed at NJP, the commanding officer is required to ensure that the accused is advised of his right to appeal. A person punished under article 15 may appeal the imposition of such punishment through proper channels to the appropriate appeal authority.

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