Located in Tucson, Arizona, the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base was originally built as a basic airfield in 1925. Since 1940, it has operated as a base for the U.S. Air Force. Davis-Monthan AFB is home to the 355th Wing and a variety of combat groups. However, it is best known for its “aircraft boneyard” where excess military aircraft are stored. If you serve at Davis-Monthan AFB and anticipate facing military discipline proceedings, you have the right to your choice of a civilian defense attorney.
Types of Military Justice at Davis-Monthan AFB
When it comes to military discipline at Davis-Monthan AFB, there are two common proceedings:
- nonjudicial punishment (NJP); and
- trial by court-martial.
Nonjudicial punishment is an administrative disciplinary proceeding used by each branch of the military. In the Air Force, it is commonly referred to as Article 15. Because these are administrative proceedings, a conviction is not reflected on your permanent criminal record. That does not mean the consequences are not severe.
Article 15 is initiated and overseen by your commanding officer. The rules regarding testimony or other evidence are lax compared to a formal court-martial. You do, however, have the right to reject an NJP in favor of a trial by court-martial. A court-martial is more likely to bring stiff consequences, but there are benefits from rejecting an NJP in some cases. Always consult with legal counsel before rejecting an NJP.
If you receive an unfavorable result in an NJP, you have the right to appeal. However, that appeal is heard up the chain of command as opposed to in a formal appellate court. Grounds for an appeal include an unjust outcome or disproportionate punishment.
A trial by court-martial is a formal criminal proceeding. If convicted, it will be reflected on your criminal record. These proceedings are more formal than an NJP in that they are overseen by a military judge. Additionally, the rules for questioning witnesses and introducing evidence are far more strict.
If convicted in a Davis-Monthan AFB court-martial, you have a right to an appeal. There are two levels of courts that hear appeals from Air Force court-martial convictions:
- the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals; and
- the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
Just like an NJP proceeding, you have the right to a civilian defense attorney at every stage of your appeal.
Common Offenses at Davis-Monthan AFB
While you can face a court-martial proceeding at Davis-Monthan AFB for any violation of the UCMJ, there are some offenses more commonly dealt with through an Article 15.
Common NJP Offenses
- Unauthorized absence (AWOL)
- Drunk on duty
- Violation of orders
- Destroying government property
Common Court-Martial Offenses
The penalties for either an NJP or a trial by court-martial could include:
- Loss of pay
- Extra duties, and
- Loss of rank
What's more, a conviction at trial by court-martial could also lead to incarceration or a punitive discharge.
Contact a Davis-Monthan AFB Civilian Defense Lawyer
Regardless of the type of military discipline you face, you have the right to hire the civilian defense counsel of your choice. Attorney Patrick J. McLain is a former military judge that has dedicated his career to fighting service members accused of wrongdoing. To discuss your legal options, contact Patrick J. McLain today.