For minor offenses, commanders will generally impose punishment under Article 15, UCMJ. Procedurally, the commander will review the file, then sign the Article 15. Though a senior NCO will often do the initial reading, the commander must have already signed the paperwork, and will ultimately conduct the hearing.
Upon being read an Article 15, the service member is escorted with the packet to see a military defense counsel. Unless you are a senior enlisted (E-7 or above) or officer, you will typically watch a video with other service members, then have the opportunity to consult with a military attorney if you have further questions. You can also hire a civilian defense attorney. The lawyers at Anderson & Travis are former military JAG officers experienced in military law and the Article 15 procedures. They can discuss your options with you before you make any decisions.
Accepting Article 15 jurisdiction does NOT mean you are pleading guilty or accepting guilt. You still have the right to put on a defense, call witnesses, and establish your innocence. Though the commander must find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the rules of evidence do not generally apply to Article 15 proceedings.
You have the right to reject an Article 15 and demand a trial by court-martial (the exception being sailors aboard a ship). Doing this may or may not result in court-martial charges, depending upon the strength of the evidence against you, and your prior disciplinary record. Think carefully before rejecting an Article 15, and never do it without personally talking to an attorney.