Fort Sam Houston is a post in San Antonio, Texas, operated by the United States Army. Nicknamed “Fort Sam,” this installation was formally named after former Governor of both Tennessee and Texas, Sam Houston. If you are facing charges while serving at Fort Sam Houston, contact attorneys Patrick J. McLain and E. Allen Chandler right away.
Forms of Military Discipline at Fort Sam Houston
Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), there are two types of military discipline used at Fort Sam Houston: nonjudicial punishment and trial by court-martial.
Known informally as Article 15, nonjudicial punishment is an administrative form of military discipline used in the Army. An NJP will not result in a mark on your criminal record as it is not considered a criminal proceeding. That said, the potential consequences are still severe.
The first thing to know about Article 15 is that you have the right to reject one in favor of a trial by court-martial. This choice is a risk, however. While there are advantages to having your case heard in a more formal setting, you also face the risk of the steeper penalties that come with a court-martial.
You have the right to consult with civilian defense counsel before making this decision, and it is a right that would serve you well to take advantage of. Every case is different, and a skilled attorney could advise you on whether rejecting an NJP is in your best interest.
If you opt to move forward with an Article 15, you have the right to appeal if it does not go your way. The appeal will be heard up your chain of command, and the decision will only be overturned if there is an unjust outcome or disproportionate punishment.
While an NJP will not end up on your permanent record, a conviction in a trial by court-martial will. This process is typically more formal than an NJP, and the proceedings are overseen by a military judge. The rules of evidence in a court-martial are more formal than those in an NJP, which can work in our favor in some cases.
If convicted, you are entitled to appeal. In fact, many charges automatically receive appellate review following a conviction. At both the trial and on appeal, you are entitled to hire your choice of civilian defense counsel.
Common Offenses at Fort Sam Houston
Many offenses that are brought at Fort Sam Houston could result in either an NJP or a trial by court-martial. While any violation of the UCMJ can lead to a court-martial, minor offenses are usually addressed with an NJP.
Common NJP Offenses
- Unauthorized absence (AWOL)
- Drunk on duty
- Violation of orders
- Destroying government property
Common Court-Martial Offenses
Whether you are facing an NJP or court-martial, the penalties can be significant. Either process could lead to a restriction, loss of pay, loss of rank, or extra duties. However, a court-martial could also lead to punitive discharge or incarceration.
Fort Sam Houston Civilian Defense Counsel
You do not have to face these charges alone. Contact attorney Patrick J. McLain right away to discuss your options.