Article 15 Army Regulation: All About Nonjudicial Punishment

If you’re in the US armed forces, one of the most essential rules you should familiarize yourself with is Article 15 in the army. Commonly known as nonjudicial punishment, Article 15 is a punishment issued by commanders that don’t warrant court-martial interference. This rule plays a vital role in the military justice system, and if you’re in any branch of the military, you should understand what it entails.

This blog delves into Article 15 and its significance to active-duty military personnel. It will help you understand the military judiciary system better.

marching active-duty military personnels

Understanding Army Article 15 Regulation: A Deep Dive

Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) was created to give military commanders a fast and easy way to do three things: punish people who commit minor offenses, maintain discipline, and deter misconduct.

In general, Article 15 warrants light punishments that are less severe than disciplinary actions from a general court-martial.

There are three types of Article 15s per the UCMJ: summarized, company grade, and field grade.


The “summarized” level is for minor infractions and offers the lightest punishments, typically involving duties or restrictions not exceeding two weeks. The maximum punishments at a summarized Article 15 may include:

  • Oral reprimand
  • Extra duty for two weeks or 14 days
  • Restriction for 14 days

Service members aren’t entitled to a defense attorney and may request a trial by summary court-martial in this case.

Company Grade

Company grade is more severe than summarized. Under this category, the maximum punishment you may receive includes an oral reprimand, extra duty for 14 days, restriction for the same period, forfeiture of seven days base pay, and reduction in rank of one grade.

Field Grade

Meanwhile, the field-grade article can get an oral reprimand, military personnel extra duty for 45 days or a month and a half, restrictions for 60 days or two months, forfeiture of one-half base pay a month for two months, and reduction in rank of one grade. It is the most severe among the three categories mentioned.

Rights and Protections Afforded to Service Members

Suppose you are accused of violating the UCMJ and are offered Article 15. In that case, you have the right to confer with an experienced military defense attorney before deciding to accept facing Article 15. This military lawyer can review the allegations and advise whether you should accept or decline the light punishment you’re given.

An Article 15 hearing is considered less severe than a court-martial trial. However, if you believe your commander will not be impartial, you can request a thorough review. On the other hand, non-judicial punishment is not a criminal conviction, so you need to be careful if you want a special court-martial instead.

If the commander decides to press the issue and impose a penalty, you may appeal to the next senior commander. If you appeal, your nonjudicial punishment cannot be increased. However, sentences usually begin immediately and will be administered while your appeal is pending. The senior commander can reduce your sentence, and it is considered an authorizing statute that can deem you’re not guilty.

Article 15 Army Regulation vs. Court-Martial: Key Differences

The main difference between the military judiciary system and civil proceedings is that civilian courts aim to prevent undesirable behavior. Meanwhile, the emphasis is more on discipline in the military.

Compared to court-martial trials, Article 15 procedures are a form of non-judicial discipline conducted by commanders. Receiving a nonjudicial punishment doesn’t result in a criminal record, and your record may not be affected.

Non-judicial punishment is intended for minor violations and has no long-term impact on a service member’s service record. Meanwhile, a trial by court-martial may result in more severe punishments and possibly even federal conviction. Hence, military members should gauge if the appropriate punishment is worth the risk. It would be ideal to confer with a lawyer to assess the possible impact on one’s military career.

Article 15 permits a commander to resolve allegations of minor misconduct against an active-duty military member without resorting to higher forms of discipline. On the other hand, that service member can refuse Article 15 and request for court martial.

Implications of Article 15 on Military Careers

Receiving nonjudicial punishment can affect your morale and performance on the job. The forfeiture of basic pay can affect your finances, too. You will be forced to spend more time on military service if imposed on extra duty.

If you receive the maximum sentence, your imposing commander may demote you. This may affect your military career’s progress. The financial restrictions may have long-term effects because you may incur debt during that period.

On the bright side, your nonjudicial punishment will not reflect in your permanent record, and you will be given the opportunity to mend your ways. While your career progress may be impeded, you can rebound and achieve your goals.

Evolving Perspectives and Reforms

Because the military emphasizes discipline, there may be cases wherein commanders abuse their power and give nonjudicial punishment without character witnesses or present evidence. Fortunately, nowadays, more service members have been empowered to access information that can spare them from getting taken advantage of.

There are plenty of resources available online that military personnel can refer to. There are online forums wherein they can confer with other service members that underwent the same predicament. Moreover, they can seek advice from military lawyers without spending a ton. Because of this empowerment, it is perceived that there will be a better balance between maintaining discipline and protecting rights in the military.


US army in camouflage uniform

While Article 15 may not affect your permanent record, it can still impact your career. Hence, it would be best to empower yourself to understand these punishments’ implications.

Explore Military Verification to learn more about military life and seek military verification status of an active member.


What are the three types of Article 15s?

The three types of Article 15s are summarized, company grade, and field grade, each escalating in severity of punishments from minor duties to significant forfeiture of pay. These categories allow commanders to match the severity of the offense with appropriate disciplinary actions to maintain unit discipline.

What are the Article 15 offenses?

Only minor offenses warrant Article 15. These offenses include sleeping on duty, disobeying military orders, disrespecting superiors, and underage drinking.

Is Article 15 a nonjudicial punishment?

Yes, non-judicial punishment is another term for Article 15. The punishments are less severe than the possible consequences of a court martial.

Is Article 15 a dishonorable discharge?

No, Article 15 is a disciplinary action given to active duty service members. A dishonorable is a type of separation from military service.

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