Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is one of the larger Marine bases on the west coast. Located in north San Diego County, Camp Pendleton was established in 1942 in order to train Marines in preparation for World War II. Since 1946, it has been a permanent installation that has been home to a number of Operating Force units.
Courts-martial and admin boards at Camp Pendleton
If you are facing a disciplinary proceeding, you must remember that you are entitled to a defense from a private attorney if you choose to hire that attorney. When it comes to military proceedings at Camp Pendleton, there are three major types of proceedings:
- Nonjudicial punishment
- Administrative boards
Administrative actions include a variety of proceedings covering charges from AWOL and disrespect to sexual assault and murder. The most common administrative action is known as nonjudicial punishment. Also known as an NJP or office hours, these proceedings are intended for lesser offenses but you always have the right to demand a trial by court-martial, unless you are embarked on a ship.
A court-martial is a judicial proceeding used to handle allegations that are more serious, or when a military member refuses nonjudicial punishment and demands his or her right to trial by court-martial. Thus any violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice can lead to charges before a court-martial. These charges can include crimes that are common in civilian courts, like fraud or sexual assault. However, they can also include offenses specific to military life, like war crimes or disobedience to orders.
If you are found guilty at NJP or court-martial, you have the right to appeal the ruling against you. You have the right to be represented by a civilian attorney at either the Navy-Marine Court of Criminal Appeals or the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
Common Military Offenses at Camp Pendleton
While the most common offenses Marines face at Camp Pendleton constitute crimes in the civilian world, many offenses are specific to military life and would not be criminal elsewhere.
Common Military Offenses
- Unauthorized absence (AWOL)
- Drunk on duty
- Destroying government property
Common Court-Martial Offenses
Potential Disciplinary Penalties
While an NJP is treated as a minor proceeding compared to a court-martial, the reality is that a conviction of either type can affect your life and career tremendously. In the most serious NJP cases, including those with positive drug test results, you could face administrative separation or show cause proceedings. Some of the other NJP consequences include:
- loss of pay;
- extra duties; and
- loss of rank.
A conviction in a court-martial can carry the same penalties as described above. However, they can also include much more serious consequences, including:
- punitive discharge
With the stakes this high, it is critical to obtain defense counsel that will provide the strongest defense possible.
Experienced Civilian Legal Counsel for Service Members
If you are facing NJP or court-martial proceedings at Camp Pendleton, you need the strongest defense possible. While you are entitled to an attorney appointed by the military, a private civilian attorney may have the time and resources to dedicate to your case that an appointed attorney can't match. For experienced counsel on whom you can depend, contact attorney and U.S. Marine Corps former judge advocate and military judge, Patrick McLain, today.