Articles Of The UCMJ


After a long and successful career in the United States Navy, and having represented hundreds of service members in the United States Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, and Cost Guard, we want to aggressively fight for you, too.


Members of the United States Armed Forces are governed by a different set of laws than other Americans, and they are tried before different courts than other Americans. Although the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard have different rules and regulations governing each service, all service members, regardless of service, are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Offenses in the UCMJ are identified by article.

The Punitive Articles of the UCMJ

The punitive articles of the UCMJ range from Article 77 to Article 134; however, many of these Articles have several offenses under the Article, and the last two Articles are “catch-all” Articles. Article 133, Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Gentlemen criminalizes any conduct the service considers inappropriate for an officer. Article 134, the General Article, punishes any conduct that is “. . .prejudicial to good order and discipline. . .” or “. . .brings discredit upon the Armed Forces. . .”.

Some offenses under the UCMJ are the same as civilian criminal offenses. Other Articles are purely military offenses, meaning there are civilian equivalents. Purely military offenses can be extremely serious. Desertion under Article 85, for example, carries a maximum punishment of death if it occurs during time of war (actions in Iraq and Afghanistan being considered wars).

Some of the more serious military crimes analogous to civilian crimes are:

  • Murder under Article 118 of the UCMJ.
  • Manslaughter under Article 119 of the UCMJ.
  • Rape and Sexual Assault under Article 120 of the UCMJ.
  • Rape of Sexual Assault of a Child under Article 120b of the UCMJ.
  • Larceny and Wrongful Appropriation under Article 121 of the UCMJ.
  • False Pretense (Fraud) under Article 121b of the UCMJ.
  • Offenses concerning government computers under Article 123 of the UCMJ.
  • Possession, Distribution, use of Controlled Substances under Article 112a of the UCMJ.

These are some examples of some of the non-military offenses in the UCMJ. There are many other theft, fraud, assault, and obstruction of justice articles that one would expect to see in a state or federal criminal code. In addition to these commonly understood criminal offenses, there are a number of unique military offenses. Some of the more common ones are:

  • Desertion under Article 85 of the UCMJ.
  • Absent without Leave (AWOL in the Army, Unauthorized Absence in the Navy) under Article 86 of the UCMJ.
  • Disrespect toward Superior Commissioned Officer under Article 89 of the UCMJ.
  • Cruelty and Maltreatment under Article 93 of the UCMJ.
  • Mutiny and Sedition under Article 94 of the UCMJ.
  • Conduct Unbecoming an Officer under Article 133 of the UCMJ.

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