Seated only five miles north of Wichita Falls, Texas, is Sheppard Air Force Base. This United States Air Force installation has been in operation since 1941 and is operated by the Air Education and Training Command. If you have been notified of pending disciplinary charges while serving at Sheppard AFB, attorney Patrick J. McLain can help.
Military Justice at Sheppard AFB
When there is an alleged violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) at Sheppard Air Force Base, there are two commonly used forms of discipline. They include nonjudicial punishment and trial by court-martial.
Of the two types of military discipline, nonjudicial punishment is the least formal. Commonly referred to as Article 15 in the Air Force, Nonjudicial punishment (NJP) is an administrative proceeding that could have a major impact on your future. While a conviction does not land on your permanent record, it could carry serious consequences and even lead to the end of your career in the Air Force.
You are entitled to reject an NJP. If you do so, your case will be heard in a trial by court-martial. This choice is risky, as a court-martial carries more severe penalties compared to an NJP. That said, there are some built-in advantages of a formal trial compared to facing an NJP process overseen by your commanding officer. You should always consult legal counsel before making this decision.
You have the right to an appeal following an adverse NJP decision. However, the appeal is heard up your chain of command instead of through an appeals court.
A trial by court-martial is a formal hearing overseen by a military judge. This criminal proceeding has strict rules of evidence, and a conviction will end up on your criminal record. This means a conviction at court-martial could follow you long after your military career is over.
Like with an NJP, you have the right to appeal a conviction after a trial by court-martial. Trial by court-martial appeals differ, given that they are heard by a dedicated appeals court. When the charges are serious, the courts will often initiate an appeal automatically. During trial or on appeal, you have the right to hire your choice of civilian defense counsel to defend you.
Common Offenses at Sheppard AFB
If you are accused of violating the UCMJ, you could face either type of military discipline. However, some charges are more likely to be heard at an NJP while others are more likely to be heard during a trial by court-martial.
Common NJP Offenses
- Unauthorized absence (AWOL)
- Drunk on duty
- Violation of orders
- Destroying government property
Common Court-Martial Offenses
For lesser offenses, the potential penalties for an Article 15 or a trial by court-martial are often similar. The four most common penalties in both types of hearings include loss of rank, extra duties, loss of pay, and restriction. A trial by court-martial could also lead to confinement.
Speak with Civilian Defense Counsel
Never take on these criminal charges alone. Without the help of experienced legal counsel, you could take a tough situation and make it worse. To build a defense that could prevail at trial, reach out to attorney and retired military judge Patrick J. McLain and attorney E. Allen Chandler right away.