Article 15 and Military Career: A Criminal Conviction?

by | Uncategorized | 1 comment

Facing an Article 15 in the military can be a nerve-wracking experience. You’re probably wondering how it’ll affect your future, especially when it comes to being labeled with a criminal conviction. Let’s clear up the confusion.

Understanding the nuances of military law is crucial, and knowing the difference between non-judicial punishment and criminal convictions can make all the difference. We’ll delve into what an Article 15 entails and its implications for your military record.

Whether you’re currently serving or planning a career post-service, it’s important to grasp how an Article 15 could impact your life. Stick around as we explore the key aspects of this military disciplinary action.

What is an Article 15?

An Article 15, often referred to as non-judicial punishment (NJP), is a disciplinary procedure within the U.S. military. It’s not a criminal trial, but rather an administrative process to address minor offenses outside the sphere of civilian courts. Commanding officers use this mechanism to maintain good order and discipline within their units.

Key Characteristics of Article 15

Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), an Article 15 provides commanders with the authority to impose punishment for minor breaches of conduct. Here are some core aspects:

  • Not a Criminal Conviction: Receiving an Article 15 does not equate to a criminal record in the civilian world.
  • Range of Punishments: Penalties can vary from extra duties to reduction in rank, confinement to quarters, or even forfeiture of pay, depending on the severity of the infraction.
  • Rights of the Accused: If you’re facing an Article 15, you have the right to refuse it and demand a court-martial. However, a court-martial could lead to more severe repercussions if found guilty.

Decision Process

When a commander issues an Article 15, they will present evidence of the wrongdoing, and you’ll have an opportunity to present your side of the story. It’s not as formal as a court-martial, and the standard of proof is lower. Decisions are based on a preponderance of evidence, meaning the commander must believe it’s more likely than not that the misconduct occurred.

Impact of an Article 15

An Article 15 can be filed in either your Military Personnel Record Jacket (MPRJ) or your Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). How it’s filed can influence its visibility and potential impact on your military career. Most importantly, an Article 15’s ramifications won’t reach into civilian life as a criminal conviction would. However, it could potentially affect promotions, clearances, and specific assignments within your military career.

Understanding the process and consequences of an Article 15 is crucial. Being well-informed helps you navigate the situation effectively. If you find yourself in this predicament, seeking legal counsel from a Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer or another military law expert may be beneficial. They can offer guidance specific to your case and the best course of action to take.

How does an Article 15 differ from a criminal conviction?

When you’re exploring the ramifications of an Article 15, it’s crucial to distinguish it from a criminal conviction. An Article 15 is considered a non-judicial punishment, which means it is dealt with within the military’s chain of command rather than through the civilian court system. While both can affect your military career, they do so in markedly different ways.

First and foremost, an Article 15 does not appear on your civilian criminal record. It’s a disciplinary action that stays within military records, potentially affecting promotions and assignments but not publically visible as a criminal conviction would be. This detail is vital because it means you’re less likely to face long-term consequences outside of your military service, like difficulties in obtaining civilian employment.

In the world of military discipline, an Article 15 offers you some advantages over a court-martial, which is a form of military criminal trial. With an Article 15, you get a quicker resolution, and the range of possible punishments is less severe. Punishments can include:

  • Reduction in rank
  • Forfeiture of pay
  • Extra duties
  • Temporary restrictions

If you were to go through a court-martial and face a criminal conviction, the consequences could include dishonorable discharge, confinement, and loss of all military benefits. Moreover, a court-martial conviction is equivalent to a civilian criminal conviction and therefore is permanently inscribed on your criminal record.

Understanding the rights afforded to you under an Article 15 is also critical. You have the right to refuse the Article 15 and demand a court-martial instead. This option might be taken if you believe the evidence against you won’t hold up in a formal trial, or if you are prepared to risk the higher stakes of a court-martial for the chance to completely clear your name.

Remember, facing an Article 15 is a serious matter, and though it’s not as severe as a criminal conviction, it’s essential to handle the situation with the utmost care and to seek qualified legal counsel to navigate the process effectively.

Implications of an Article 15 on your military record

When you’re faced with an Article 15, it’s crucial to understand the potential impact on your military record. Although it’s not a criminal conviction in the civilian sense, it can affect your military career. An Article 15 indicates misconduct or unsatisfactory performance and is documented in your Official Military Personnel File (OMPF).

How an Article 15 Influences Promotions and Assignments

Your OMPF is accessible to commanders and can influence decisions regarding:

  • Promotions: Superiors may view an Article 15 as a red flag, questioning your suitability for advancement.
  • Assignments: Certain positions require a spotless record. Your history of an Article 15 might limit opportunities.
  • Security Clearances: The adjudication of an Article 15 could raise concerns during security clearance reviews.

Potential for Rehabilitation and Record Correction

Despite the immediate implications, it’s important to remember that the military also values rehabilitation. Demonstrating improved conduct and performance over time can mitigate the repercussions of an Article 15. Moreover, service members can submit a request to expunge an Article 15 from their record, although approval is not guaranteed.

  • Factors considered for expungement include:
  • Time elapsed since the incident
  • Behavioral changes post-incident
  • Accomplishments and commendations received after the fact

Accessing Your Military Records and Seeking Redress

You have the right to access your OMPF and review the contents. If inaccuracies are found, you can submit a request for correction through the appropriate military channels. It’s recommended to keep a personal record of all military correspondences and decisions to ease the process.

Remember, while an Article 15 is a part of your military record, its weight diminishes over time if you demonstrate consistent professionalism and adhere to military standards. Building a strong record post-incident is invaluable for your military career progression.

Clearing up the confusion surrounding Article 15

When faced with an Article 15, you might feel uncertainty about its implications on your future. Article 15 is not a criminal conviction; rather, it is a disciplinary action within the military justice system. This distinction is critical because it separates military non-judicial punishment from the civilian criminal justice system and its long-term effects.

To grasp the impact of an Article 15 on your record, it’s essential to understand what it entails. An Article 15 occurs when a commanding officer determines that a service member has committed a minor breach of military regulations. The commanding officer has the discretion to offer an Article 15 instead of a court-martial, which is reserved for more serious offenses.

Misconceptions and Facts

Many misconceptions whirl around Article 15s. Let’s set the record straight:

  • An Article 15 is not the same as a misdemeanor or felony. It doesn’t imply the same degree of offense as in the civilian legal system.
  • An Article 15 is close to a supervisory corrective tool, employed to maintain order and discipline.
  • The occurrence does not automatically appear on civilian background checks, though it may impact internal military evaluations.

If you’ve received an Article 15, you’ll be relieved to know that opportunities for expungement exist. The process for expungement depends on several factors such as the gravity of the offense, time elapsed, and subsequent conduct. Good behavior and exemplary service can significantly bolster your case for expungement.

Moreover, access to military records is your right. It’s advisable to review your Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) regularly to ensure no errors are present. Errors, if any, can be contested through the Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMR).

To streamline the often complex navigation through military recordkeeping and potential repercussions of an Article 15, consider enlisting the expertise of a legal advisor familiar with military law. An advisor can guide you through the nuances and help you understand exactly how an Article 15 may affect your career trajectory.


Understanding the nuances of an Article 15 is crucial for your military career. It’s not a civilian criminal conviction, but it’s still serious and carries consequences that could alter your trajectory. You’ve got options for rehabilitation and even expungement, so don’t let a mistake define your future. Stay informed, review your records, and if necessary, seek expert legal advice to ensure your service record accurately reflects your dedication and professionalism. Remember, maintaining high standards is key to overcoming setbacks and advancing in your military career.


post page form.


Next Steps: Sync an Email Add-On

To get the most out of your form, we suggest that you sync this form with an email add-on. To learn more about your email add-on options, visit the following page ( Important: Delete this tip before you publish the form.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.