The chain of command will usually go lighter on a Soldier that is honest, humble, and comes to the Article 15 hearing well prepared. Typically the command takes no pride or pleasure in punishing a Soldier. If you can put doubt in their case you may still be punished but usually it is very light. This also depends on the type of offense you are being charged with.
Unforgiveable Sin or Honest Mistake?
If it is what I call an unforgiveable sin, meaning something you knew was wrong and did it anyway like DUI then chances are you will get a stiff punishment.If what you did was an honest mistake with no intent behind it like you were 2 hours late for work because you overslept then chance are the command will be much lighter than the DUI example.
Let’s look at another example: Let’s say you are being charged with disrespect to a NCO, but the NCO was basically trying to provoke you into being disrespectful and there were witnesses that saw the NCO provoking you. In this example a few options are possible: usually you would still get the Article 15 with very light punishment, because your were in fact disrespectful, or you would not receive punishment at all because the NCO had intent to provoke you and was unprofessional. In cases like this where there are witnesses the Commander will usually take action against the NCO that ranges from a butt chewing to an Article 15. The Commander has a lot of latitude in the Article 15 process.