The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) defines military criminal offenses – some military crimes are similar to state or federal criminal statutes; however, many military crimes are unique to the military justice system. If you are charged with a military crime, consult with an experienced military lawyer – a military attorney who knows military law and the military. I have practiced military law since 1998. Because of my twenty years of active duty service as both a line officer and a JAG, I also know and understand military culture.
Articles 77 through 134, UCMJ, criminalize specific conduct. Part IV of the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM) publishes these military crimes under the heading “Punitive Articles” and lists the “elements” for each offense. In order to obtain a finding of “guilty” the prosecution must prove each element of a charged offense “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If the prosecution fails to prove just one element, then the finding at the end of a court-martial should be “not guilty.” Some of the more commonly charged military criminal statues and their elements are reproduced below for information purposes only. For more information on the sources of military criminal law and procedure, see Part 2 of our Blog series entitled “A Rough Form of Justice.”
For more information on military crimes including maximum punishments, potential defenses, and a discussion of the strength or weakness of the prosecution’s case, consult with an experienced military lawyer.
Article 82, UCMJ. SOLICITING COMMISSION OF OFFENSES
- that the accused solicited or advised a certain person or persons to commit a certain offense under the UCMJ; and
- the accused did so with the intent that the offense actually be committed.
Article 85, UCMJ. DESERTION
(a) Any member of the armed forces who—
(1) without authority goes or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to remain away therefrom permanently;[…]
Article 86, UCMJ. ABSENCE WITHOUT LEAVE
Any member of the armed forces who, without authority—[…]
Article 91, UCMJ. INSUBORDINATE CONDUCT
Any warrant officer or enlisted member who— (1) strikes or assaults a warrant officer […]
Article 92, UCMJ. FAILURE TO OBEY ORDER OR REGULATION
Any person subject to this chapter who violates or fails to obey any lawful general order or regulation, having knowledge of any other lawful order issued by a member of the armed forces, which it is his duty to obey, fails to obey the order; or […]
Article 93, UCMJ. CRUELTY & MALTREATMENT
Any person subject to this chapter who is guilty of cruelty toward, or oppression or maltreatment of, any person subject to his orders shall be punished as a court-martial may direct. […]
Article 107, UCMJ. FALSE OFFICIAL STATEMENT
Any person subject to this chapter who, with intent to deceive, signs any false record, return, regulation, order, or other official document, knowing it to be false, or makes any other false official statement knowing it to be false, shall be punished […]
Article 112a, UCMJ. WRONGFUL USE, POSSESSION, DISTRIBUTION, ETC. OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE
The military takes an aggressive approach to eliminating illegal drug use from its ranks. Military urinalysis programs are far from perfect. If you are facing an adverse administrative action or court-martial for a drug offense you need a defense […]
Article 118, UCMJ. MURDER
Any person subject to this chapter who, without justification or excuse, unlawfully kills a human being, when he,[…]
Article 119, UCMJ. MANSLAUGHTER
Any person subject to this chapter who, with an intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm, unlawfully kills a human being in the heat of sudden passion caused by adequate provocation is guilty of voluntary manslaughter and shall be punished as a court-martial may direct. […]
Article 120, UCMJ. RAPE & SEXUAL ASSAULT
Since 2006, Congress and the President have made numerous changes to the law and procedure governing rape and sexual assault prosecutions in the military. These changes are intended to assist military prosecutors to obtain a higher rate of conviction. […]
Article 121, UCMJ. LARCENY AND WRONGFUL APPROPRIATION
(a) Any person subject to this chapter who wrongfully takes, obtains, or withholds, by any means, from the possession of the owner or of any other person any money, personal property, or article of value of any kind—[…]
Article 125, Sodomy
a. Text of statute.
(a) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the offense.
(b) Any person found guilty of sodomy shall by punished as a court-martial may direct.
Article 128, UCMJ. ASSAULT
Any person subject to this chapter who attempts or offers with unlawful force or violence to do bodily harm to another person, whether or not the attempt or offer is consummated, is guilty of assault and shall be punished as a court-martial may […]
Article 128b, UCMJ. Domestic Violence
Any person who—
(1) commits a violent offense against a spouse, an intimate partner, or an immediate family member of that person;
(2) with intent to threaten or intimidate a spouse, an intimate partner, or an immediate family member of that person—
Article 133, UCMJ. CONDUCT UNBECOMING AN OFFICER
Any commissioned officer, cadet, or midshipman who is convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman shall be punished as a court-martial may direct. […]
Article 134, UCMJ. GENERAL ARTICLE
Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which […]
Article 134, UCMJ. ADULTERY
The Manual for Courts-Martial explains that, “the adulterous conduct must either be directly prejudicial to good order and discipline or service discrediting.”[…]
Article 134, UCMJ. CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
Allegations of possessing child pornography sometimes implicate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. In many cases, the prosecution over charges. An experienced military lawyer is familiar with military appellate case law and is able to fight against government overreaching.[…]
Article 134, UCMJ. FRATERNIZATION
Each of the military services has created regulations, directives, and orders that govern conduct between personnel of different ranks.[…]
Article 134, UCMJ. OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE
If you are under investigation, it is a good idea to avoid discussing the details of the investigation with any potential witnesses. If you conduct your own investigation, you run the risk of being accused of obstructing justice.[…]
Article 134, UCMJ. SEXUAL HARASSMENT
If you are under investigation, it is a good idea to avoid answering questions or making any statements. You run the risk of confirming details about the alleged sexual harassment and making false statements.[…]
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