UCMJ Articles 77-134
The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)) is the U.S. military’s legal canon. It establishes laws which you must abide by if you are a service member in any one of the branches of the armed forces. Altogether, the UCMJ contains over 100 unique punitive offenses, each with its potential maximum sentence and some with a mandatory minimum sentence.
The Manual for Courts-Martial is the official handbook of the UCMJ. It describes the elements required to convict a service member of an offense, as well as a range of possible sentencing options if a soldier is convicted. The manual is freely available online for service members.
What Are the Punitive Articles in the UCMJ?
- Article 77: Principles - Makes unlawful the aiding, abetting, or assisting in a crime, even if a soldier took no direct role.
- Article 78: Accessory After the Fact - Makes unlawful the act of providing aid or support to a known criminal or criminals.
- Article 79: Conviction of Lesser Included Offense - Defines the process, procedures, and limitations of lesser included offenses in military courts.
- Article 80: Attempts - Creates a legal distinction between successful criminal acts and attempted criminal acts.
- Article 81: Conspiracy - Makes it a crime to conspire with another to commit a criminal offense under the UCMJ.
- Article 82: Solicitation - Makes it a crime to solicit another to commit a criminal offense under the UCMJ.
- Article 83: Fraudulent Enlistment, Appointment, or Separation - Criminalizes the concealment or distortion of information related to enlistments, appointments or separations.
- Article 84: Effecting Unlawful Enlistment, Appointment, or Separation - Makes aiding or assisting in the unlawful enlistment, appointment, or separation of another soldier a criminal offense.
- Article 85: Desertion - Defines culpability and punishment for soldiers who purposefully abandon their posts.
- Article 86: Absence Without Leave - Defines culpability and punishment for soldiers who fail to appear before their unit or place of duty at a designated time.
- Article 87: Missing Movement - Makes it a criminal offense for a soldier to purposefully miss a predetermined military movement.
- Article 88: Contempt Toward Officials - Criminalizes contemptuous statements or comments made by a U.S. Military Officer to a government official.
- Article 89: Disrespect Toward a Superior Commissioned Officer - Authorizes punishment for service members who disrespect a superior commissioned offer.
- Article 90: Assaulting or Willfully Disobeying a Superior Commissioned Officer - Authorizes punishment for any soldier who assaults his CO or refuses to obey a direct order.
- Article 91: Insubordinate Conduct Towards Warrant Officer, Noncommissioned Officer, Or Petty Officer - Defines and prescribes punishment for insubordinate conduct toward military officers.
- Article 92: Failure To Obey Order Or Regulation - Makes criminal the act of disobeying or ignoring unit orders or general military regulations.
- Article 93: Cruelty And Maltreatment - Criminalizes acts of cruelty, oppression, and maltreatment by a superior ranking soldier to a subordinate.
- Article 94: Mutiny And Sedition - Defines acts of mutiny and sedition and prescribes wartime and peacetime punishments.
- Article 95: Resistance, Flight, Breach Of Arrest And Escape - Makes criminal any act of resistance or escape by a service member from post-trial custody or confinement.
- Article 96: Releasing Prisoner Without Proper Authority - Prescribes punishment for soldiers who suffer a prisoner to escape through design or neglect from military confinement.
- Article 97: Unlawful Detention - Criminalizes actions leading to the unlawful apprehension and arrest of another individual.
- Article 98: Noncompliance With Procedural Rules - Makes causing delays in procedural hearings—whether through intent, accident, or neglect—a criminal offense.
- Article 99: Misbehavior Before The Enemy - Defines wartime offenses related to actions of cowardice, insubordination, and reckless behavior in front of enemy forces.
- Article 100: Subordinate Compelling Surrender - Prescribes punishment for soldiers accused of compelling the surrender of property or personnel w/out CO consent.
- Article 101: Improper Use Of Countersign - Punishes service members for using unofficial countersigns or disclosing countersigns to unauthorized individuals.
- Article 102: Forcing A Safeguard - Criminalizes actions which put at risk or fail to uphold known safeguarded property or persons.
- Article 103: Captured Or Abandoned Property - Makes wrongful any attempt by a soldier to buy, sell, or trade in captured or abandoned property.
- Article 104: Aiding The Enemy - Allows for sentencing and punishment of soldiers who supply aid (supplies, intelligence, arms, etc.) to enemies of the state.
- Article 105: Misconduct Of A Prisoner - Criminalizes improper conduct or behavior by U.S. service members in front of prisoners of war.
Article 106: Spies -
Authorizes military courts to punish soldiers who have gathered intelligence
for or delivered intelligence to the enemy.
- Article 106a: Espionage - Makes the intentional sharing of U.S. defense secrets to foreign powers a capital offense.
- Article 107: False Official Statement - Makes falsifying official U.S. Military or Government statements and documents a criminal act.
- Article 108: Military Property Of The U.S., Sale, Loss, Damage, Destruction, Or Wrongful Disposition - Defines criminal actions pertaining to the sale, loss, damage, and destruction of military property by a soldier.
- Article 109: Property Other Than Military Property Of The U.S. - Waste, Spoilage, Or Destruction - Defines criminal actions pertaining to the waste, spoilage, or destruction of non-military property by a soldier.
- Article 110: Improper Hazarding Of Vessel - Placing a military vessel in danger of loss or destruction through willful or negligent actions.
- Article 111: Drunken Or Reckless Operation Of Vehicle, Aircraft Or Vessel - Provides grounds for courts-martial of any soldier who recklessly or drunkenly operates a vehicle, aircraft or vessel.
Article 112: Drunk On Duty -
Criminalizes service members who are found drunk while performing U.S.
- Article 112a: Wrongful Use, Possession, Etc., Of Controlled Substances - Makes illegal the possession, use, distribution, and manufacture of controlled substances in the military.
- Article 113: Misbehavior Of Sentinel Or Lookout - Defines criminal actions by military sentinels or lookouts such as drunkenness, sleeping while on post, or leaving before being relieved.
- Article 114: Dueling - Makes it a criminal offense to duel another service member or instigate a duel between two other people.
- Article 115: Malingering - Soldiers who feign illness or injuries, or who inflict harm on themselves to avoid duty.
- Article 116: Riot Or Breach Of Peace - Allows for the conviction and sentencing of soldiers who incite riots or sow chaos within a community.
- Article 117: Provoking Speeches Or Gestures - Criminalizes words or gestures which led to altercations or a breach of the peace.
- Article 118: Murder - Makes murder of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree a capital offense in the U.S. military.
Article 119: Manslaughter -
Actions which lead to the unintentional killing of another person by a
U.S. soldier is criminalized.
- Article 119a: Death Or Injury Of An Unborn Child - Makes criminal any action which causes the death or injury of an unborn child.
Article 120: Rape And Sexual Assault Generally -
Broadly defines sexual offenses such as assault, rape, and sexual abuse
committed by service members.
- Article 120a Stalking - Makes illegal any verbal, written, implied threatening behavior which causes another person to fear death or bodily harm.
- Article 120b: Rape And Sexual Assault Of A Child - Authorizes punishment for soldiers who have raped or sexually assaulted a child.
- Article 120c Other Sexual Misconduct - Defines other forms of sexual misconduct, such as voyeurism and non-consensual taping and broadcasting of pornographic material.
- Article 121: Larceny And Wrongful Appropriation - Makes the theft of property or attempted theft of property illegal and subject to military courts-martial.
- Article 122: Robbery - Crimes involving the theft of personal property, often through the threat of violence.
Article 123: Forgery -
Crimes related to forging documentation or signatures with the intent to
- Article 123a: Making, Drawing, Or Uttering Check, Draft, Or Order Without Sufficient Funds - Makes criminal any action that involves making, drawing, or uttering checks without sufficient funds.
- Article 124: Maiming - Soldiers who deliberately set out to disfigure or permanently disable another person.
- Article 125: Forcible Sodomy Or Bestiality - Defines unnatural carnal relations and criminalizes certain sexual acts by United States service members.
- Article 126: Arson - Criminalizes the burning or setting alight of structures, dwelling places, or personal property.
- Article 127: Extortion - Defines criminal actions related to the use of leverage (secrets, threats of violence, etc.) to coerce another person into taking certain actions.
- Article 128: Assault - Makes it a criminal offense to bring violence upon another person, especially through the use of a weapon
- Article 129: Burglary - Offenses related to the forcible entry into private property with the intent to commit a crime.
- Article 130: Housebreaking - Penalty for breaking into private property without the consent of the owner.
- Article 131: Perjury - The offense of perjury and falsifying sworn statements.
- Article 132: Frauds Against The United States - Defrauding the U.S. of property by means of making false claims and falsified documents.
- Article 133: Conduct Unbecoming An Officer And Gentleman - Criminalizes COs, cadets, and midshipmen who bring dishonor to their rank and titles.
Article 134 Offenses -
A collection of punitive offenses concerning the general order, discipline,
and good conduct of U.S. service members.
- Animal Abuse - Acts involving the cruelty, abuse, and abandonment of domesticated animals.
- Adultery - Acts related to the offense of adultery (sleeping with someone who is not your spouse).
- Bigamy - Acts involving polygamous relationships and multiple marriage contracts.
- Bribery And Graft - Acts which abuse power, position, or wealth to secure the influence of another person.
- Burning With Intent To Defraud - Acts which involve the intentional burning of property to open fraudulent insurance claims.
- Check, Worthless, Making And Uttering - Acts concerning the making, drawing, or uttering of checks without sufficient funds.
- Child Endangerment - Acts of recklessness which endanger the life of a child or children.
- Child Pornography - Acts concerning the purchase, filming, and distribution of child pornography.
- Cohabitation - Acts which concern the cohabitation of a domicile by two unwed adults.
- Correctional Custody - Acts concerning the escape or breach of correctional custody.
- Drunk Prisoner - Acts which concern the drinking of alcoholic beverages while serving time as a prisoner.
- Drunkenness, Incapacitation For Performance Of Duties - Acts which lead a soldier to be unfit for military duties due to intoxication or to the aftereffects of alcohol/illegal substances.
- False Or Unauthorized Pass Offense - Acts involving the unauthorized use of or tampering with a military pass or permit.
- False Pretenses, Obtaining Services Under - Acts which involve the use of false pretenses to defraud a company of its services intentionally.
- False Swearing - Acts involving sworn statements or testimony which a service member knows to be untrue at the time.
- Firearm, Discharging Through Negligence - Acts which involve the unintentional discharging of a service member’s firearm.
- Impersonating A Commissioned, Warrant, NonCommissioned, Or Petty Officer Or An Agent Or Official - Acts by service members to impersonate an officer of the military or an agent/official of the government.
- Indecent Language - Oral or written statements by service members which are deemed indecent by another.
- Indecent Conduct - Sexual or lude acts by a service member to other service members or civilians.
- Jumping From Vessel Into The Water - Acts involving the jumping of a service member from a military vessel into a body of water.
- Kidnapping - Acts concerning the seizure and confinement of a person against his or her will.
- Mail: Taking, Opening, Secreting, Destroying, Or Stealing - Criminal acts related to the taking, opening, destroying, or stealing of another person’s mail.
- Misprision Of A Serious Offense - The action of deliberately concealing a criminal offense from law enforcement officials.
- Obstructing Justice - Actions which impede, delay, or obstruct an ongoing criminal investigation.
- Pandering And Prostitution - Acts of trading goods or services in exchange for sex or facilitating such exchanges for monetary benefits.
- Parole, Violation Of - Acts by service members which violate the terms of their parole.
- Perjury, Subornation Of - Acts in which a service member attempts to persuade another person to commit perjury.
- Public Record: Altering, Concealing, Removing, Mutilating, Obliterating Or Destroying - Acts involving the altering, concealing, removing, or destroying of public records.
- Quarantine: Medical, Breaking - Acts of abandoning a medical quarantine without being discharged by an officer or medical professional.
- Reckless Endangerment - Acts which recklessly put at risk the lives of civilians or other service members.
- Restriction, Breaking - Actions which break a restriction placed on a service member by a commanding officer or official.
- Seizure; Destruction, Removal, Or Disposal Of Property To Prevent - Actions involving the destruction, secreting away, or removal of property which is the object of an authorized search and seizure.
- Self-Injury Without Intent To Avoid Service - Defines offenses in which a service member inflicts self-harm for reasons which do not involve avoidance of service.
- Sentinel Or Lookout: Offenses Against Or By - Actions by service members to loiter or disrespect an on-duty sentinel or lookout.
- Soliciting Another To Commit An Offense - Acts by service members to request another to commit an offense, or advise another on how to commit an offense.
- Stolen Property: Knowingly Receiving, Buying, Concealing - Acts which involve the receiving, buying, or concealing of stolen property.
- Straggling - Acts by service members to lag behind their unit and undermine formations and fighting ability.
- Testify: Wrongful Refusal - Acts which involve the refusal to testify despite having knowledge of an offense.
- Threat Of Hoax Designed Or Intended To Cause Panic Or Public Fear - Acts involving hoaxes which are intended to cause panic or fear.
- Threat, Communicating - Communications which use threatening language to invoke fear in another person.
- Unlawful Entry - Acts of entering private property without that person’s consent, but without the intention to commit another offense.
- Weapon: Concealed, Carrying - Acts which involve the concealment of a deadly weapon without proper authorization.
- Wearing Unauthorized Insignia, Decoration, Badge, Ribbon, Device, Or Lapel Button - Offenses involving the unauthorized wearing of military decorations, insignia, ribbons, and other rank- or service-defining devices.
- Wrongful Interference With An Adverse Administrative Proceeding - Acts which obstruct, delay, or impede another soldier’s adverse administrative hearing.
What Is the Purpose of the Uniform Code of Military Justice?
The purpose of the UCMJ is to ensure that order is faithfully maintained
among the ranks of the United States military, to establish rules which
govern the conduct of military service members in wartime and peacetime,
and to initiate punishment if a soldier acts in a manner that goes against
The military requires service members to perform duties that a civilian would rarely—if ever—be requested to carry out. Military service members have unique responsibilities; failing in those responsibilities may have severe consequences. It’s for this reason that the military has a separate justice code—to ensure that service members conduct themselves in a way that would not bring dishonor or harm to the military or the country.
Many of the UCMJ article offenses do not have civilian counterparts. They are specific to the circumstances of military life and military duties. Also, they are in place to maintain order among the ranks and mete out punishment for breaking those rules.
Are Civilians Subject to the UCMJ?
Civilians have their cases go to trial in civil and criminal courts that fall under state or federal jurisdiction. They are rarely subject to the laws and sentencing under the UCMJ and are therefore rarely seen as defendants.
Some exceptions in rare circumstances may include:
- The dependents of a service member who accompany the soldier overseas may be subject to military courts (as was the case of Madsen v. Kinsella, where an Air Force lieutenant stationed at Germany was killed by his wife).
- Certain offenses (such as espionage) may fall under the military’s jurisdiction.
- A civilian contractor working in a foreign country on a military base may go to trial through the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA).
- When Martial Law goes into effect.
With those exceptions in mind, it is still quite uncommon for a civilian to go to trial in a military court, including offenses which are under both criminal and UCMJ law codes (such as murder or driving under the influence). Also, it is unusual for veteran members of the armed forces (UNLESS that veteran is receiving retirement benefits, in which case they are still under UCMJ jurisdiction).
Frequently Asked Questions About the UCMJ
When Was the UCMJ Created?
The Uniform Code of Military Justice was signed into law by Harry S. Truman on May 6th, 1950. It was the first military code of law passed by Congress which encompassed every branch of America’s armed forces: the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Air Force. Before the UCMJ, the United States relied on aging congressional laws known as the Articles of War, which had governed the military’s legal justice system for over 100 years.
The UCMJ has seen many revisions over the last 68 years, and the Manual for Courts-Martial has been updated a half a dozen times since 2000.
How Many Articles Exist Under the UCMJ?
There are 146 articles in the U.C.M.J, along with 12 sub-articles, bringing the number to 158. Not all of these articles are punitive. Some define legal concepts and review jurisdictions and have nothing to do with an offense. Some, such as Article 77, define who may or may not be held criminally liable as a principal of a particular crime. There are 61 punitive articles within the UCMJ: Articles 77 to 134.
What Is the Maximum Sentence Possible Under the Articles of the UCMJ?
Death is the maximum possible sentence that a military court can give out. With that said, every punitive UCMJ article proposes a range of sentencing, and the death penalty is quite rare. Some articles, such as Article 118 for Murder, carry with it the possibility of the death sentence or life sentence in prison without the opportunity for parole.
Where Can I Find Information About the Punitive Articles of the UCMJ?
The Manual for Courts-Martial provides maximum punishments, rules of evidence and what constitutes a violation of each article under the UCMJ. You can also find information specific to each Article of the UCMJ here on the Bilecki & Tipon website.