Your Right to an Attorney for NJP

In the military, defense counsel is free of charge to the accused unless the service member chooses to use a civilian attorney, in which case the military counsel may be used as well. The accused may also self-represent.

Nonjudicial Punishment (NJP)

The right to legal counsel for NJP is covered under Section 815 of Title 10, United States Code. This is discipline for an offense without the court martial process. Different military branches have different regulations about service members consulting with legal counsel.

  • Air Force members have the right to counsel prior to deciding between NJP and court-martial.
  • Army personnel may consult with counsel in deciding whether to accept NJP results or demand trial by court martial, unless the commander uses Summarized NJP proceedings.
  • Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard service members do not have a right to free counsel prior to NJP. They are encouraged to hire counsel.


NJP is most like civil action, not a criminal conviction. Punishment ranges from verbal reprimand to reduced rank, correctional custody, confinement on diminished rations (on ships only), loss of pay, extra duty, and/or restrictions. Records of non-judicial punishment often goes in the member’s service record. Each branch of the military handles the process for NJP differently, but all in accordance with Part V of the Manual for Courts-Martial.


Section 838(b) of Title 10, United States Code lets the accused choose court-martial, which would include free military defense counsel of the accused’s choosing.

Don’t Face NJP Alone

If you are a service member who has been charged with an offense, do not leave your career to chance. Contact attorney Garrison Wood to learn how building a strong defense can have a positive outcome in your case.

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