Joint Base Lewis-McChord Civilian Defense Attorney

Joint Base Lewis-McChord is located just 10 miles south of Tacoma, Washington. The joint base is a combination of the United States Army's Fort Lewis and the Air Force's McChord Air Force Base. The two bases were combined in 2010. If you are facing military discipline while stationed at Joint Base Lewis McChord, contact former military judge and experienced defense counsel Patrick J. McLain right away.

Types of Military Justice at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Two commonly used forms of military justice at Joint Base Lewis-McChord are nonjudicial punishment and trial by court-martial. These procedures have their differences, but both can have a major impact on your life and career.

Nonjudicial Punishment

The most commonly used form of administrative discipline is known as nonjudicial punishment (NJP). An NJP is informally referred to as Article 15 by both the Army and Air Force. As an administrative hearing, a conviction at NJP will not result in a conviction on your permanent record. However, an adverse ruling can greatly affect your career and even lead to your discharge.

An NJP is initiated by your commanding officer who will also oversee the hearing. The rules of an NJP are informal and lack the structure of a court-martial. An appeal in an NJP will go up your chain of command instead of being heard by an appellate court.

If you would prefer to face a trial by court-martial, you have the right to reject an Article 15. If you are concerned that you may not get a fair hearing in front of your commanding officer, you might benefit from opting for a trial by court-martial. It is important to note, however, that the potential penalties in a court-martial are notably tougher than at an NJP. The choice to accept or reject an NJP is a critical one and should not be made without guidance from experienced legal counsel.


A trial by court-martial is a formal criminal proceeding. If you are convicted, your permanent record will reflect the conviction. This conviction can haunt you even after you re-enter civilian life.

A trial by court-martial is overseen by a military judge. The rules are more formal than the rules of an NJP, and the standard for introducing evidence is much higher. If you are found guilty, you have the right to appeal. In fact, several types of convictions trigger an automatic appellate review.

To learn more about the trial or appeals process, contact attorney Patrick J. McLain.

Common Offenses at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Examples of common charges at Joint Base Lewis-McChord are listed below.

Common NJP Offenses

  • Unauthorized absence (AWOL)
  • Drunk on duty
  • Fraternization
  • Violation of orders
  • Destroying government property

Common Court-Martial Offenses

Potential Penalties

The potential penalties stemming from an Article 15 include but are not limited to:

  • Restriction
  • Loss of pay
  • Loss or rank
  • Extra duties.

A trial by court-martial could result in more severe penalties including confinement. In both cases, you could face separation proceedings if convicted. But if you fight back, you have a chance of avoiding a conviction and keeping your life and career intact.

You have the Right to Civilian Defense Counsel

You are entitled to have a skilled civilian defense counsel represent you at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. To speak with a retired Marine Corps judge that has dedicated his private practice to defending soldiers and airmen, contact attorney Patrick J. McLain today.