Virignia District Court holds that prior NJP precludes Federal Court charges for same offense

Virignia District Court holds that prior NJP precludes Federal Court charges for same offense

The defendant was charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated aboard Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Virginia. The defendant, although having an absolute right to trial by court-martial, waived this right and accepted Article 15, or Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP). After judgment and sentencing, the defendant was charged with the drunken operation of a motor vehicle aboard a federal installation by the U.S. Attorney's Office. The question before the court was whether the defendant's subsequent charge in federal court was in violation of his Constitutional rights of due process. The court held that it was.

The court analogized the acceptance of NJP to a defendant's plea bargaining agreement, concluding, "…the court…could not further prosecute the defendant for the offenses described in [their] plea agreement." Here, the court concludes that "[t]he government's end of the non-judicial punishment agreement is rooted in Article 15, the JAG Manual, and the MOU. The regime created by those authorities contemplates that a service member who agrees to waive his right to trial by court-martial and accept Non-Judicial Punishment is foreclosing further prosecution. Indeed, the regime would not be rational otherwise."


United States v. Espinosa (E.D. Va Dec 2, 2010)

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