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September 2023
Tim Bilecki

Case Result: Navy Petty Officer NJP Defense

Allegations: Assault.
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Navy | Petty Officer Third Class,E-4
The NJP appeal was granted in part.

It is a discernible truth that fights happen in the military. Oftentimes, it’s a fair fight where two service members duke it out and commands are none the wiser. At other times, the fight forces commands to take up the conflict and we see little to no consistency in how they are handled. In the case of a young Navy Petty Officer Third Class, apparently the command just wanted him to get his butt kicked and do nothing about it. That’s about the only explanation we can come up with for the aggressive NJP action that was taken.

The incident took place in Pearl Harbor at the Arizona Hall parking lot. Two fellow service members squared up on our client and took aggressive action towards him. Not one to just take a punch and lay down crying, the young Petty Officer decided to give violence right back in turn. This was his right and he did what any of us would do under the circumstances. He then contacted law enforcement as he wanted the incident to be property documented to cover himself. It didn’t work.

Somehow, the command saw fit to charge the Petty Officer with assault pursued to resolve the matter with non-judicial punishment (NJP). The command was also under the impression that our client was accusing them of negligence given the circumstances of the violent encounter and that further complicated his relationship with the command.

In many cases where young enlisted personnel receive NJP they will take their punishment and move on. However, this Petty Officer knew for a fact that he didn’t do anything wrong and he was ready to fight back. He reached out to NJP defense attorney Tim Bilecki for help in drafting the appeal. By conducting our own investigation, we were able to highlight our client’s defensive response to an unprovoked physical threat. Moreover, we pointed out the mature manner in which he handled the conflict which included proactively contacting law enforcement.

The result was that the appeal was granted in part as the command had to find some way to save face.  How and why the command pursued the matter this far continues to escape us to this day. It is likely that they thought the Petty Officer wouldn’t make a fuss about it all. They were wrong. He fought back and he won because he was willing to fight. You can’t just let command run over you and at times, you need to get some experienced counsel to fight by your side for the principle of the matter.

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