Does UCMJ Article 15 Apply to Me?

No one thinks about UCMJ Article 15 unless they get charged with it or are super into the military. Most commonly, the Army and the Air Force use the term  “Article 15”. The term refers to the Non-Judicial Punishment – otherwise known as NJP.

While in the Navy, Article 15 is also occasionally mentioned as a “Captain’s Mast.” You can find the statutory authority for Article 15 in the MCM (Manual for Courts-Martial). Furthermore, the MCM remains recognized by nearly all military branches. This includes the Coast Guard. 

It is crucial to comprehend the minute details of Article 15 and the obvious ways it can negatively impact your career as well as your freedom. So to find out the answer to what is UCMJ Article 15? Here are the details: 

UCMJ Article 15

What is UCMJ Article 15?

Article 15 is a federal law that gives commanding officers the power to conduct a non-judicial proceeding for secondary to minor offenses – usually referred to as non-judicial punishment. Thus, commanding officers can settle accusations for minor lawlessness without involving higher forms of discipline. 

In simple words, it is when a commanding officer is allowed to conduct a thorough investigation by himself instead of requesting a trial by the court-martial. In addition to this, the accused soldier maintains the right to refuse to accept the charges of Article 15 and holds enough authority to request a trial by court-martial. 

It is important to mention that a court-martial is an incredibly pressing military procedure that can end in losing various elements such as your military occupation and, most importantly, your rank. That is why most soldiers are encouraged to accept UCMJ Article 15 instead of requesting a trial. 

Summary of the Different Types of Article 15s

When you are in the process of figuring out whether you should accept the UCMJ Article 15 or alternatively request a court-martial, you should keep an extensive knowledge of different kinds of Article 15s on your side. So, the three types of Article 15s are:


A Summarized Article 15 is the most common type of Article 15. The maximum punishment at a summarized Article 15 involves the soldier agreeing to extra duty for 14 days, restrictions for 14 days, and/or an oral admonishment. Furthermore, soldiers remain disallowed any contact with a defense attorney. However, the choice of requesting a trial by court-martial remains. 

Company Grade

At a Company Grade Article 15, maximum punishment involves the soldier agreeing to extra duty for 14 days, restriction for 14 days, verbal reprimand, giving up seven days of base pay, and/or decrease in the rank by one grade.

Field Grade

This type of Article 15 is the worst-case scenario. At a Field Grade Article 15, maximum punishment consists of extra duty for nearly 45 days, restriction for 60 days, verbal reprimand as well as surrendering of one-half base pay for two months, and/or decrease in the rank to E-1.

Guilty of Article 15

If a soldier is found guilty of Article 15, the punishment commences instantly; however, if a soldier decides to appeal Article 15 and does not receive a final decision within the span of 5 days, then the punishment of extra duty or restriction can be suspended. 

Your Rights with a Military Criminal Defense Attorney

It can be pretty challenging to make a sound decision when everything you care about is on the line. Therefore, it is best to turn to an exceptional firm to help you guide towards the best course of action while assisting you with the details of your case at all times.

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