UCMJ Article 92: Failure to Obey Order or Regulation

If you are a service member of the U.S. armed forces and have failed to obey a general order or regulation issued by a military department or a commanding officer you will be subject to charges under Article 92 of the UCMJ.

What is the problem with this punitive article?

The orders and regulations issued by top military brass and bureaucratic agencies are in many cases conflicting, confusing, and ineffectively promoted within the ranks. But if you fail to comply with these orders, you may face some very harsh penalties, including:

  • Confinement for years simply by failing to follow an order that you had no idea existed.
  • Dishonorably discharged from the military, ending your military career and threatening your civilian career with a tarnished reputation.
  • All pay and benefits may be forfeited. Your healthcare, your pension, your paycheck—all of it may be taken from you.

A single mistake should never cost you your military career, let alone your freedom. Contact Bilecki Law Group today for a free consultation into your case. 

Possible Offenses

Every punitive article of the UCMJ requires prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a handful of critical assumptions that are known as elements so that they can convict you of a crime. Article 92 describes three possible offenses that a service member may be accused of. From most to least serious:

  1. Violation of or failure to obey a lawful general order or regulation
    1. That there was in effect a certain lawful general order or regulation
    2. That the accused had a duty to obey it; and
    3. That the accused violated or failed to obey the order or regulation
  2. Failure to obey other lawful order
    1. That a member of the armed forces issued a certain lawful order;
    2. That the accused had knowledge of the order;
    3. That the accused had a duty to obey the order; and
    4. That the accused failed to obey the order
  3. Dereliction in the performance of duties
    1. That the accused had certain duties
    2. That the accused knew or reasonably should have known of the duties; and
    3. That the accused was (willfully) (through neglect or culpable inefficiency) derelict in the performance of those duties.

Military Legal Defense for Failing To Obey Orders

How do you fight these charges? Article 92 provides many avenues for a military defense attorney to crush the government’s case against you. We’ll start by asking some essential questions into the circumstances of your case, and follow up with additional questions to help us define our trial strategy:

  • Does this order or regulation conflict with a different order or regulation issued by another commanding officer of higher or lower status? Have you been put in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation? We’ll determine where the conflict is and show that it was impossible for you to follow the law under both commands.
  • Has the order or regulation been properly promulgated throughout the ranks? Do all servicemen and servicewomen under that command know of the order? Is the order or regulation confusing in its wording or expression? Each one of these may be grounds for an acquittal in your court-martial case.
  • Were you neither willfully nor negligently breaking with that order? A case may be made that you were not properly trained or prepared to follow through with a specific order or regulation, as ineptitude is defined as an unpunishable offense under this article.
Soldiers running on a battlefield

You can’t change the past, but you can influence your future hearing or trial with a ruthlessly effective military defense attorney. 

Military Defense Lawyers for Article 92

General orders and regulations in the military are often terribly confusing, notoriously conflicting and ineffectively promoted. Bilecki Law Group has firsthand experience defending service members against these orders and can help you secure the best possible outcome in your case. 

 Bilecki Law Group will help you fight back against charges under Article 92.

The Military's Definition of a General Order or Regulation

 Any order or regulation passed down from the highest echelon of the military—including the President, Secretary of Defense, Homeland Security, or any military department—as well as any general officer with troops under his or her command, has the ability to issue a general order or regulation that affects all military personnel under that command.

General orders are often broad in scope, heavy-handed, and many times, not properly communicated across the branch or subdivision of the armed forces they seek to reshape. An overly broad order alone may be enough to secure an acquittal for our clients.

Maximum Possible Punishment

This article is a broad collection of offenses, all of which are loosely related to the act of disobedience to perform an order or regulation. The maximum sentence under this article includes:

Violation of or failure to obey lawful general order or regulation:

  • Reduction to E-1
  • Forfeiture of all pay and allowances
  • Confinement for 2 years
  • Dishonorable discharge

Violation of or failure to obey other lawful order:

  • Reduction to E-1
  • Forfeiture of all pay and allowances
  • Confinement for 6 months
  • Bad Conduct discharge

Dereliction of duty is a lesser punishment under Article 92 that varies depending on the intent or capability of the service member. Maximum sentencing under willful dereliction of duty is a bad conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 6 months.

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