UCMJ Article 134

Military Defense Attorney For Article 134 Violations

Article 134/General Article Violations

The Uniform Code of Military Justice, or UCMJ, is federal law enacted by Congress which defines the military criminal justice system. The jurisdictional reach of the UCMJ is worldwide and always applies to active-duty service members and in all places. The President, as Commander in Chief, writes the implementing rules such as the Rules for Court-Martial (RCM) and the Military Rules of Evidence (MRE) rules and regulations for the Code. To enact new rules and regulations, the President issues an executive order, known as the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM). This order explains rules and regulations for the courts-martial, which are essentially the courts for the military.

Though a new MCM may not come out every year, the contents may change yearly, and those changes are laid out in that year’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act. Some years bring big changes to certain articles of the UCMJ/ punitive articles and other years less change occurs. And depending on the date of the criminal conduct will determine which version of a crime/ article applies to your case. That is why you need an experienced attorney who is aware of these sometimes-nuanced changes. A good attorney will know how that will impact your case procedurally and possibly provide avenues of defense depending on the facts alleged.

General Article 134

Article 134 of the UCMJ covers many crimes, including that of adultery, or extramarital sexual conduct. More broadly, Article 134, known as the “General Article,” addresses a range of conduct that is prohibited for military members. Each crime alleged under Article 134 has the added burden of requiring the government to prove either the conduct was discrediting to the armed forces or detrimental to good order and discipline.

Manual for Courts-Martial and Legal Precedent

As with so many things in the MCM you must not only look at the plain reading of the text of whatever rule or Article you are dealing with. With this in mind, you must also look to any applicable case law (rulings by applicable higher courts – service appellate courts, Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF), the Supreme Court and at times Federal Appellate Courts) as to how your facts match against any established legal precedent. For example, over the years the courts have chipped away at this added burden the government faces under Article 134. Under these circumstances, it is factually far easier to prove one or both points.

UCMJ Article 134 Adultery

Many actions are prohibited under UCMJ Article 134, adultery being one. And though it is infrequently charged alone due to it being less of a crime in the eyes of society, it is still an illegal act under the UCMJ. Frequently you see this article charged in concert with other charges to augment the criminality or provide an opportunity for the prosecutor to introduce more aggravating facts to the trier of fact (judge or jury).

Therefore, if you’ve been charged with adultery or any other violation under the UCMJ, you need representation from the Wilkie Law Firm. We offer aggressive defense and court representation for service members

Aden Wilkie’s experience and firsthand knowledge of UCMJ regulations makes him the  best military lawyer available. He works tirelessly to defend military men and women against these charges. Located in Jacksonville, Wilkie serves the entire state of North Carolina as well as its surrounding states. He is also able to service any military installation located in the United States, but travel fees will apply. Call today at 910-333-9626 for a free consultation. You may also fill out our online intake form.

Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 134 FAQs

There are currently 54 unique criminal offenses under Article 134. These offenses cover a very wide range of crimes, broad in both scope and sentencing. As stated above, the Manual for Courts-Martial, or MCM, lists maximum punishments for specific offenses, as well as the necessary elements of crime for conviction and an explanation of each offense. Article 134 offenses include actions such as animal abuse, adultery, kidnapping, and even disloyal statements.

Article 134 essentially exists as a “catch-all” for offenses not explicitly mentioned in any other Article of the UCMJ. The Article divides these offenses into three major categories or clauses.

  • Those offenses that bring disorders or neglect to the discipline of the armed forces.
  • Offenses which involve conduct that brings discredit to the armed forces.
  • Offenses which involve any violation of federal law, non-capital offenses, or assimilated federal crimes.

Charges brought against someone under Article 134 have a wide range. These charges can be brought before one of the three levels of courts-martial, depending on the severity. The most serious offenses incur decades-long sentencing, and put your future as a civilian in grave jeopardy. A negative military record of trial, such as for dishonorable discharge, bad conduct discharge, or sex offenses, follows you wherever you go. 

One wrong move, and you lose years of accrued benefits, including retirement and healthcare. If you face Article 134 charges, you need the right attorney to defend your future. Aden Wilkie, the Devil Dog Defender, is a Marine Veteran who fights on behalf of armed service members nationwide.

Improper sexual conduct under Article 134 is a vague term. The Article acts to include every form of improper sexual conduct not explicitly listed in Article 120. Below, we list common sexual misconduct charges.

  • Adultery
  • Rank misconduct between a subordinate and their commanding officer
  • Solicitation
  • Sexual arrangements considered “nontraditional”
  • Various other consensual sexual acts which the Article considers indecent

Even officers may be accused of sexual misconduct under Article 133. This is a similarly broad range of actions which the military considers improper.

Improper sexual conduct,  to incur a charge, must involve the prosecution showing that the conduct harmed the reputation of the military in some way. In sexual misconduct cases, the prosecution must first prove that the misconduct  occurred. Then they must prove that it either impacted your performance or that it harmed the reputation of the armed forces in some way.

At the Wilkie Law Firm, we know how serious allegations of misconduct are. They can end your career, and even change your life as you know it. That’s why we’re committed to protecting your future. Call our North Carolina office today at 910-333-9626 for a free consultation.

Under Article 134, solicitation includes a multitude of actions with the purpose of requesting or encouraging the committing of a crime by someone else. Examples of solicitation are tempting, commanding, influencing, urging, or inciting someone to commit a crime. To be considered true solicitation, someone must take the act seriously. This means that any statement made in a jestful or joking manner is not solicitation.

The solicited offense need not be carried out to warrant a charge. First, the prosecution must prove, however, that the accused person genuinely meant for the person they solicited to commit an offense. Prosecutors must then also prove that the accused person’s conduct negatively impacts the reputation of the armed forces, and that they knew the solicited act was a crime.

Under Article 134, adultery consists of three elements. To charge someone with adultery, the prosecutor must prove all of the following three elements: 

  • The accused person did actually have wrongful sexual intercourse with someone.
  • Either of the involved parties were married to another person.
  • The accused person’s conduct was a detriment to the good order and discipline of the armed forces or brought discredit upon it.

Commanders consider several factors when deciding whether the service member’s actions warrant punishment. Below, we list the most common factors.

  • The accused person’s rank, marital status, and position within the armed forces.
  • The rank, marital status, and position relative to the armed forces of the other person involved.
  • Military status of the accused person’s spouse, as well as the status of the other involved person’s spouse.
  • Impact of the adultery on the ability of those involved to perform their military duties.
  • Misuse of government time or resources to contribute to the commission of the adultery.
  • Whether or not the adultery continued after a warning, the flagrancy of the adultery, or if the adultery was accompanied by other UCMJ violations.
  • Any negative impact on the accused person’s military unit, or the unit of the other involved person.
  • Legal separation of involved parties.
  • When the adulterous act started, as well as whether it was ongoing or isolated.

Maximum punishments for specific violations under UCMJ Article 134 vary greatly. Firstly, to determine punishments, many factors are considered by the accused person’s commanding officer. Adultery has maximum punishments of dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of benefits and pay, and up to one year in confinement. Ultimately, officers and courts-martial consider the severity of UCMJ violations, as well as any effects they had on the function or reputation of the armed forces.

Should I Hire an Attorney for an Article 134 Violation?

You need an attorney with the skills and experience necessary to defend your case and achieve the best possible outcome. If you are facing charges due to an Article 134 violation, do not take it lightly. You risk losing benefits, status, income, and much more. That’s why you need the Wilkie Law Firm on your side as soon as possible. If you’re ready to fight your Article 134 violation charges aggressively, so are we. Aden Wilkie is located in Jacksonville, NC and services armed forces at Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg as well as other bases, camps, stations, and posts across the nation.  Call 910-333-9626 today for a free consultation or browse our website to learn more.

This information is intended to educate and help you better understand the process and is not meant as a substitute for the personalized advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney.