Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice authorizes a Marine's commanding officer to impose Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP) for minor offenses without referring the Marine's case to a court-martial. Unless the Marine is attached to or embarked on a vessel, the Marine may refuse NJP and request a trial by court-martial.
If the Marine agrees to allow the charges to be resolved at an NJP hearing, his commanding officer will conduct the hearing to determine whether NJP should be awarded and, if so, the type and amount of punishment to be awarded. This hearing is not a trial. Most of the rules of evidence that apply at a court-martial do not apply at an NJP hearing.
A Marine who believes his non-judicial punishment to be unjust or disproportionate to the offense or offenses may appeal it within 5 days to the commanding officer of the officer who imposed the punishment. If the Marine submits the appeal more than 5 days after receiving the punishment, the appeal may be denied as untimely unless the Marine shows good cause for the delay.
Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a commanding officer may initially order an accused into pretrial confinement if he has reasonable belief that the accused has committed a court-martial offense and that the circumstances require confinement. Within 72 hours after ordering the pretrial confinement, the commanding officer must decide whether the pretrial confinement will continue. The confinement can continue only if the commanding officer determines that the accused has committed an offense, that lesser forms of restraint are inadequate, and that the accused, if not confined, may flee before trial or commit serious criminal misconduct.
Within 7 days after the beginning of pretrial confinement, a neutral officer must review the commanding officer's determination. The accused can request representation by military counsel during this initial review proceeding. If practicable, the accused and his counsel, if any, will be allowed to appear before the reviewing officer to make a statement. After reviewing the case, the reviewing officer may order continued confinement or order the release of the accused. This officer may later reconsider his initial decision to continue the confinement if the accused provides significant information not previously considered. If the charges are referred to trial, the accused may request that the military judge assigned to the case review the propriety of the pretrial confinement.
A Marine's rights will always be protected throughout any judicial processes. Not only will Marines be made aware of their rights verbally, but they are also required to sign statements of understanding. Additionally, Marines are afforded the opportunity to meet with legal counsel free of charge.