Article 15 in the Air Force

What Happens When You Get an Article 15 in the Air Force? – Process + Punishment

So you’re getting an article 15 or nonjudicial punishment in JP, or maybe you’re just curious about what would happen if you ever did get one. Let me tell you about the process so you have a better idea of what to expect and also what types of punishment you could be facing.

What’s up, everybody? I’m Ashley Noelle. Welcome. If you’re new here or welcome back. On this channel we talk about military lifestyles, leaders, ship tips, and tips for living and working abroad.

So if any of those topics interest you, please make sure to hit those like and subscribe buttons down below. It is completely free to you, and it lets me know that the information that I’m providing is actually useful. The information that I’ll provide is tailored to Air Force Article 15s, but if you’re in the army and you’re watching, then the process and the rights that you’re afforded are pretty similar, but you’ll use different forms. So there might be some differences, but ultimately the information that I provide should be helpful for you, too. I suspect that statement probably stands true for sailors, marines and folks in the coast Guard, but honestly, I haven’t dealt with Article 15s for anyone in the Navy, marines or coast Guard.

So I’m not quite sure how your processes may differ, if at all, from what goes on in the air force. But if you are watching from another one of those branches and you are familiar with the article 15 process, then please leave a comment in the comment section below on what’s similar or what’s different so that we can all learn from your input. So an article 15 or nonjudicial punishment NJP is the heaviest form of administrative disciplinary paperwork that a service member can get outside of an administrative discharge action. So it’s more than a letter of counseling and also more than a letter of reprimand. Article 15s usually come into play when a service member has had a series of minor disciplinary infractions that have resulted in other forms of lesser paperwork, such as locs or lors.

And the article 15 becomes the next step in progressive discipline. Or article 15s can come into play when a service member has done something serious enough to bypass lesser forms of punishment, like an LoC or an LoR, and just move straight to NJP. One thing about Article 15s is that when your commander is offering you an article 15, he or she is basically just offering you a choice of forum. Either accept to resolve this matter via the article 15 process, or turn down the article 15 and demand trial by court martial. If you choose to continue with the article 15 process rather than demanding trial by court martial, then you’re not admitting any guilt at all.

You’re basically just telling your commander that you would rather he or she look at the evidence against you, along with any matters that you may submit in your own defense and determine whether or not you committed the offense and if you did, what your punishment would be. One of the biggest differences between choosing the article 15 process or choosing a court martial instead is that if you choose to continue with the article 15 process, then you’ll have fewer legal protections during that process. But ultimately, if you’re found guilty, then the punishments that you’ll face will be limited. The article 15 process is also much quicker than a court martial. On the other hand, if you demand trial by court martial, then you’ll have the full scope of legal protections that you would have at any court martial.

But the penalties that you could face if you’re found guilty are much more broad. For example, the maximum punishment in a court martial varies based on the offense, but typically you’re looking at the possibility of confinement, a punitive discharge for enlisted members. So a bad conduct discharge or a dishonorable discharge or dismissal for officers. If you’re convicted at a special court martial or a general court martial, that’ll be considered a federal conviction, which could impact your ability to vote, possess a firearm, or get quality employment in the future. A reduction in rank for enlisted members, which can usually be down to e one for most offenses, and a forfeiture of pay and allowances.

The type of punishment that you’re subject to with an article 15 varies based on the rank of the commander imposing the punishment and also your rank. So if you’re an e five or below with an article 15, the most you’ll be looking at in terms of punishment is a forfeiture of half your basic pay for two months, 60 days of reduction, 45 days of extra duty, 30 days of correctional custody, reduction in rank, and a reprimand. Usually, members will end up receiving some mixture of those options, but even if you’re found guilty of the offense during an article 15 process, that’s still not going to be considered a federal conviction against you. I’ll post the maximum punishments under Article 15 if you’re an e six through e nine, and also if you’re an officer, so feel free to pause the video if you need more time to read. So it’s a tradeoff with the article 15.

You’ll get lesser legal protections during the process, but you’re subject to limited punishments. With a court martial, you’ll get the full scope of legal protections, but you’re also going to be subject to the full gamut of punishments available for that charged defense. But keep in mind that even if you accept the article 15 proceedings, you’re still going to have the right to consult with an attorney throughout the entirety of the process. And in fact, when your commander hands you the article 15 paperwork, they’re going to indicate on the form itself the date and time of an appointment with the Area Defense Council that they’ve already scheduled for you. The form we use in the Air Force to document article 15s is the Air Force form 30 70.

So I’ll briefly go through each section of the form to let you know what rights you have during each phase in the process. This is the Air Force form 30 70, and even though it says airmen basic through staff sergeant up here, the process is the same for everyone. In block one a, your commander indicates that they are considering whether to punish you under Article 15 of the UCMJ or whether they’re considering to recommend that someone else punish you under Article 15 of the UCMJ and that someone else would be a superior commander. For instance, one b directs you to block 14, which will list the specific UCMJ violation. And block one c, that’s where your commander will list the location, the contact information, the date, and the time of the ADC appointment that they’ve already scheduled for you in advance.

And block one e lets you know the date and the time that you need to respond to your commander, letting them know whether or not you accept the article 15 process or you’re going to turn it down and demand trial by court martial. This is usually going to be three duty days from the date and the time that you’re notified. Then your commander will sign at the bottom of block one. Or if somebody else, like a subordinate, is serving on behalf of your commander, they will sign and date in block two. Once your commander gives you the Air Force form 3070 and notifies you of the NJP process, then you’ll get a copy of this form along with all of the evidence that they have against you, so you can provide all of that information to your ADC when you go for your consultation in block three.

This is where you provide your response to your commander after those three duty days, so you’ll indicate whether or not you consulted with an attorney, whether you waive your right to a court martial and accept the NJP proceedings, whether you’ve attached a written presentation so this can be any other documents in your defense or in mitigation, and whether you request a personal appearance before your commander and whether you want that appearance to be in public or in private, and then you will sign and date at the bottom of block three. Your commander will then take the time to look over all of the information that you might have presented in your defense or in mitigation and to consider the statements that you made during your personal appearance. If you chose to make a personal appearance, and I will say that you’ll end up seeing the evidence that your commander has against you. So if there is additional information that either explains why you did what you did that could help mitigate the offense for you or to show that you actually didn’t do it, you’re not guilty. Then talk with your ADC about how you can best present that information to your commander, or if a certain type of punishment may impact you in a way that your commander may not be tracking, then talk with your ADC about how you can convey that information, too.

So, for example, if reducing you in rank will automatically create a situation where now you have to hire tenure out of the air force, so just that one bust in rank will effectively be kicking you out of the air force, then maybe let your commander know just so that you can be sure that they’re tracking, because that’s kind of an important detail. But talk with your ADC about how to convey that type of information. Next up in block four, this is where the commander will indicate their decision. So they will initial that either NJP is not appropriate or you did not commit the offense, or you did commit at least one of the alleged offenses. And they’ll also let you know the punishment that they’re imposing, which will be listed in block 14 later on down in the form, you do have the right to appeal your commander’s decision.

And in four c, the commander will indicate the day and the time that you need to notify them of whether or not you want to appeal the decision. And usually this is going to be five calendar days from the day and time that you’re notified of the punishment. In block six, this is where you indicate your decision whether or not you choose to appeal. And you’re also able to submit additional matters at this point to explain why you’re appealing. And in block seven, once your commander has looked through your additional matters that you’ve submitted, if you’ve submitted any, then here is where they will make the decision whether they want to deny your appeal, grant your appeal, or grant your appeal in part and if they do grant the appeal in part, then they’ll list in block 14 later on down in the form what they’re changing.

But I will say one thing. Even if your commander chooses to deny your appeal, they can’t make your punishment worse than what it originally was. If your commander denies your appeal, then your entire NJP package will be forwarded up to the next superior commander, who will serve as the appellate authority. So, for example, if your squadron commander initiated the NJP and found you guilty and denied your appeal, then the group commander would then be the appellate authority making the final decision on your NJP action. So in block eight, this is where the appellate authority will also have the ability to deny your appeal, grant your appeal, or grant your appeal in part, and if they grant your appeal in part, then they’ll indicate what’s changed.

Down in block 14, the appellate authority will be able to review your entire NJP package. So this will include all of the evidence against you, as well as all of the matters that you submitted in your own defense or in mitigation, and their decision will be final in block nine. If the appellate authority did not grant your appeal in full, then your commander will indicate whether or not they are going to file this article 15 in your unfavorable information file or your UIF and you will acknowledge that decision. Then the entire package will be sent to the installation’s legal office so that the staff judge advocate can do a formal legal review. Then the package will be sent to the military personnel flight and the accounting and finance office so that they can make whatever changes that they need in terms of reduction in rank or forfeiture of pay.

Then the final package will be forwarded to the legal office of the General Court Martial Convening authority, and either the staff judge advocate in that office or a designated attorney will do a final administrative review for legal sufficiency of the entire package. And that’s the process. Quick disclaimer nothing in this video should be construed as legal advice. If you’re in legal trouble, then you should speak with your installations area defense counsel to help you with your particular situation. I hope this was helpful.

I created previously an entire video on the different types of punishment that military members can receive, so if you’re interested in learning more about this topic, then click on this video to be able to watch that next. I do appreciate your time. I thank you for being here and I’ll see you.

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