Built on the site of the former Imperial Japanese Army Academy in Kanagawa, Japan, Camp Zama has operated as a United States Army post since the end of World War II. This military installation is home to the 78th Signal Battalion and the 311th Military Intelligence Battalion, among others. If you have been notified of impending disciplinary charges while serving at Camp Zama, reach out to retired military judge and attorney Patrick J. McLain right away.
Types of Military Justice at Camp Zama
There are two common forms of military justice used at Camp Zama: nonjudicial punishment and trial by court-martial.
Common in every branch of the military, nonjudicial punishment (NJP) is a form of administrative military discipline. These proceedings, also known informally as Article 15 in the Army, will not be reflected in your permanent criminal record. However, a conviction can still have serious consequences that could lead to the end of your military career.
NJPs are informal. They are initiated and overseen by your commanding officer, and the rules regarding witnesses and evidence are less formal than a civilian trial. You have the right to appeal a decision, but it will be heard up the chain of command instead of in a formal appeals court.
An important aspect of Article 15 is your ability to reject the proceedings in favor of a trial by court-martial. This decision is risky, as a court-martial carries steep penalties. However, there are advantages as well. Trials have more formal rules of evidence that could work in your favor, and you could have a better chance of prevailing in front of a neutral judge as opposed to your commanding officer.
Trial by Court-Martial
A court-martial is a formal criminal hearing, and your conviction will result in a permanent criminal record. These trials are overseen by a military judge and have formal rules similar to a civilian trial.
Like with an NJP, you have the right to appeal the decision at your court-martial. In these cases, your appeal will be heard by a dedicated military appeals court. In fact, some cases result in an automatic appeal depending on the nature of the charge. You have the right to your choice of civilian defense counsel throughout the trial and any appeals.
Common Offenses at Camp Zama
You could face an NJP or trial by court-martial for any violation of the UCMJ. However, some charges are more likely to result in an Article 15 than others.
Common Article 15 Offenses
- Unauthorized absence (AWOL)
- Drunk on duty
- Violation of orders
- Destroying government property
Common Court-Martial Offenses
The penalties for a conviction at trial by court-martial or NJP are similar in some cases. They can include restrictions, extra duties, loss of rank, and loss of pay. However, a trial by court-martial could also result in punitive discharge or incarceration. A conviction in either type of setting could also lead to separation proceedings from the Army.
Contact a Camp Zama Civilian Defense Counsel
If you are ready to move forward with your defense against charges at Camp Zama, consider your legal options carefully. To discuss your case in detail, contact attorney and retired military judge Patrick J. McLain and Attorney E. Allen Chandler of Counsel right away.