Located near Fayetteville, North Carolina, Fort Bragg is a United States Army installation that is home to the XVIII Airborne Corps. The installation has been in continuous operation since 1918 when it was established as an artillery training ground. Fort Bragg's strategic importance has since grown and it is now the headquarters of U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) and U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM). If you are facing disciplinary proceedings while serving at Fort Bragg, do not hesitate to contact former military judge and attorney Patrick J. McLain today.
Types of Military Justice at Fort Bragg
There are two different types of disciplinary proceedings commonly used in the United States Army: nonjudicial punishment and trial by court-martial.
Nonjudicial punishment, or NJP, is a type of administrative military discipline. Commonly referred to as Article 15 in the Army, an NJP is not a formal criminal proceeding and will not result in a conviction on your permanent criminal record. That doesn't mean the consequences are not severe, however. Article 15 is initiated and overseen by your commanding officer. While there are rules related to witnesses and evidence, the process is much less formal than a trial by court-martial.
It is important to understand that you have the right to reject an NJP in favor of a trial by court-martial. This is a tradeoff, as a court-martial adds additional procedural protections but also carries steeper penalties. Never reject an NJP without first discussing your options with experienced legal counsel.
You also have the right to appeal any adverse decision. Instead of going before an appellate court, however, your NJP appeal will instead go up the chain of command.
Unlike Article 15, a trial by court-martial is a formal criminal proceeding. A conviction will be reflected on your permanent criminal record. Your trial by court-martial would be overseen by a military judge. The proceedings are governed by formal rules related to the introduction of evidence.
You have the right to appeal a conviction in a Fort Bragg trial by court-martial. In fact, many cases will automatically result in an appellate review. The two dedicated appeals courts for the Army include:
- the Army Court of Criminal Appeals; and
- the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
Common Offenses at Fort Bragg
You could face either an NJP or a trial by court-martial for any violation of the UCMJ. However, some charges are more likely than others to be dealt with through nonjudicial punishment. Examples of common offenses for an NJP or court-martial proceeding are listed below.
Common NJP Offenses
- Unauthorized absence (AWOL)
- Drunk on duty
- Violation of orders
- Destroying government property
Common Court-Martial Offenses
Regardless of the type of discipline you face, the penalties from a conviction could haunt you forever. Many NJP cases result in penalties like
- loss of pay
- extra duties
- loss of rank.
In more serious court-martial cases, you could face incarceration or a punitive discharge. Any conviction, regardless of the punishment assigned, could also lead to separation proceedings.
Your Right to a Fort Bragg Civilian Defense Counsel
You do not have to face the prospect of military discipline on your own. To discuss your defense options, contact attorney and former military judge Patrick J. McLain right away.