Courts-martial and admin boards at Camp Pendleton

Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is the largest Marine base 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 Fleet Marine 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 hire a civilian defenseattorney. When it comes to military proceedings at Camp Pendleton, there are three major types of proceedings:

  • Nonjudicial punishment
  • Courts-martial
  • Administrative boards

Nonjudicial Punishment

Administrative actions include a variety of proceedings covering allegations of misconduct, substandard performance of duty, and other alleged failures to meet standards of the U.S. Navy or the Marine Corps.  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.  Nonjudicial punishment can be appealed to the commander of the officer who imposed NJP, normally within five days of imposition of punishment.  


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, such as war crimes or disobedience to orders.


If you are found guilty at 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
  • Fraternization
  • Insubordination
  • 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:

  • restriction;
  • 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:

  • confinement;
  • 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 experience, time, and resources to dedicate to your case that an appointed attorney cannot 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.

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