A military discharge is the end of your military career and your retirement. Article 15s and Demotion Actions can cost you thousands of dollars and end your career. Know your rights and provide the best response possible.
Military Discharge, Separation, & Chapter Boards
As a military member facing discharge or separation, your entire career is at stake. If you are discharged, you may not receive your retirement pay or veteran’s benefits. You may walk away from the military with nothing even after many years of faithful military service.
Based on your rank or years of service, you may be entitled to a hearing. A military discharge or chapter board hearing is like a court-martial with less rules. Just like a court-martial, you are typically allowed to present evidence, question witnesses, and argue for your career. Your hearing records may also be reviewed by high level commanders, including your service Secretary’s office, and the Board of Corrections for Military Records. It is extremely important to present the right evidence and the right arguments at your discharge hearing.I give military discharge and chapter board hearings the same time and attention as I do a court-martial.
While a military discharge or chapter board is certainly a priority in your life, it typically takes a second level priority in your free Government lawyer’s office. Your free Government lawyer’s office may be processing 40-60 discharges and Article 15s in a week. This is in addition to what is likely to be a busy court-martial defense caseload and military administrative work.
If you believe your discharge/chapter board is a top priority, then you may want to consider hiring a civilian military defense lawyer. I give military discharge and chapter board hearings the same time and attention as I do a court-martial. I give each of my clients the full time and attention their cases deserve.
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Nonjudicial Punishment: Article 15s, NJPs & Captain’s Mast
An Article 15 is nonjudicial punishment (NJP). The term “Article 15″ comes from the fact that Article 15 of the UCMJ gives commanders the power to offer nonjudicial punishment. An Article 15 or NJP is a choice of forum. You have the right to turn down the offer and demand trial by court-martial. You also have the right to accept the Article 15 and present your case to your commander.
NJPs are called “nonjudicial punishment” because they don’t impact your criminal record. However, NJPs can cost you your rank, money, additional duty time and leave a permanent mark on your military record. Your NJP may appear on your evaluation or performance report and cost you a promotion. In addition, a nonjudicial punishment may, by itself or with other paperwork, lead to your separation from the military.
It is a little known fact that if you are within a few years of retirement, losing rank can cause you to retire at the demoted rank and take away your High-3 retirement calculation. This can end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars in retirement income over the course of your life.If you are an officer, a senior NCO, or are considering turning down your nonjudicial punishment to demand trial by court-martial, then you may want to consider talking to a civilian military lawyer.
Despite the stakes, it is not uncommon for your free Government lawyer to spend very little time on Article 15s and NJPs. If you are an officer, a senior NCO, or if you are considering turning down your Article 15 to demand trial by court-martial, then you may want to consider talking to a civilian military defense lawyer. As a civilian military defense lawyer, I can give your Article 15 or NJP the time and attention it needs. I can help you investigate your case, assemble a strong package, and present your best case possible. However, your time to respond is limited. If you are going to hire a civilian military defense lawyer, you need to act quickly.
Administrative Demotions & Reductions
A demotion or reduction is a loss of rank. A demotion action can hurt your career and significantly reduce your retirement. If you are within a few years of retirement, a demotion can force you to retire at the demoted rank and take away your High-3 retirement calculation. For example, an E-6 demoted to an E-5 at 18 years would retire at E-5 if he/she did not earn their E-6 stripe back. Final retirement pay would then be based on E-5 pay. This can end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars over the course of your lifetime. In some cases, you may even be entitled to a hearing.
If you are being demoted or reduced in rank, you may wish to consider hiring a civilian military defense lawyer. I can help you fight your case and put your best defense forward.
Reprimands are formal actions taken against you that do not involve loss or rank or pay. Some reprimands are more serious than others. For E-1 through E-4s, reprimands are typically something you can overcome. For officers and senior NCOs, a formal reprimand could harm your career and your chances at future promotions.
It is important to seek the advice of a military defense lawyer before responding or choosing not to respond to you reprimand. In the very least, you should contact your local defense office for help in creating your response. I personally believe that you will not need a civilian military defense lawyer in most cases.
“I have always found that mercy bears more fruit than strict justice.”
– Abraham Lincoln, Lawyer & President
Military Photos by: Lance Cpl Knowshon Ye, US Marines; Cpl Reese Lodder, US Marines