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Has a Navy CO exercised NJP jurisdiction over you in error?

On Behalf of | Aug 31, 2018 | Criminal Defense |

Any member of the armed forces can be subjected to nonjudicial punishment, or NJP.

However, if you are in the Army, is a commanding officer in the Navy authorized to exercise jurisdiction over you?

What it is

Nonjudicial punishment refers to disciplinary measures that commanding officers can use to correct minor offenses among the service members under their command. NJP is non-adversarial and COs can mete out the punishment promptly. It is not considered a conviction and is often used as a method to maintain good order.

Sorting out terms

In both the Army and Air Force, a nonjudicial punishment proceeding is called Article 15. In the Navy and Coast Guard, it is known as captain’s mast, a term that originated in the time of sailing ships. By design, the legal protection for those facing NJP is less extensive than it would be for those facing a court-martial, and many people seek assistance from outside attorneys experienced with military law.

The right to refuse

The basic law pertaining to NJP is covered in Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. You have the right to refuse NJP and, instead, demand to be tried by court-martial, even if you already signed a report saying you would accept nonjudicial punishment.

Jurisdiction issues

You must be a member of the unit that reports to the commanding officer who imposes punishment on you. However, under existing agreements among the armed forces, a CO of one branch should not exercise NJP jurisdiction over a member belonging to another branch. Therefore, if you are in the Army, for example, a commanding officer who is in the Navy should not subject you to nonjudicial punishment unless disciplinary action is urgent. The officer should return you to the Army where an Article 15 proceeding can commence.