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 persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special, or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court.
For offenses alleging disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline (clause 1 offenses) and for offenses alleging conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces (clause 2 offenses):
(a) That the accused did or failed to do certain acts; and
(b) That under the circumstances, accused’s conduct was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.
Clause 3 of Article 134 allows prosecutors to assimilate federal and state statutes under Article 134:
(a) That the accused did or failed to do certain acts that satisfy each element of the federal statute (including, in the case of a prosecution under 18 U.S.C. § 13, each element of the assimilated State, Territory, Possession, or District law); and
(b) That the offense charged was an offense not capital.
This Article covers an expansive range of conduct and is subject to abuse by inexperienced or overly aggressive prosecutors. Clauses 1 and 2 of Article 134 are typically charged in conjunction with other military crimes. Military prosecutors view Article 134 as an easy means of obtaining a conviction in case they are unable to convict on the primary charge.
For more information on this offense including the maximum punishment, potential defenses, and a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecution’s case, or to appeal a previous conviction, consult with an experienced military lawyer.
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