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UCMJ Article 93: Cruelty, Oppression, Or Maltreatment

At Bilecki Law Group, we defend service members against charges of cruelty, oppression, or maltreatment of subordinates under Article 93 of the UCMJ. This includes charges of prohibited activities with a recruit or trainee by a person in a position of special trust. 

What Is Article 93 Of The UCMJ?

The military crime of cruelty, oppression, or maltreatment of subordinates takes place under Article 93 of the UCMJ when a service member was subject to the orders of the accused and the accused was cruel toward, oppressed, or maltreated the service member in a specific manner. 

Article 93 goes on to clarify that the (cruelty) (oppression) (or) (maltreatment) must be real, although it does not have to be physical. The imposition of necessary or proper duties on a service member and the requirement that those duties be performed does not establish this offense even though the duties are hard, difficult, or hazardous.

(“Cruel”) (“oppressed”) (and) (“maltreated”) refer(s) to treatment, that, when viewed objectively under all the circumstances, is abusive or otherwise unwarranted, unjustified, and unnecessary for any lawful purpose and that results in physical or mental harm or suffering, or reasonably could have caused, physical or mental harm or suffering.

Risking your future over an accusation of cruelty is not acceptable. Learn how you can fight back against your charges with the help of Bilecki Law Group TODAY

What Kinds Of Charges Can Come Out Of An Article 93 Investigation?

Article 93 contains two specific charges and we’ll cover those in a minute. However, from our experience there are two categories of charges that we have seen under Article 93 of the UCMJ. First category are charges that genuinely serve to protect service members from genuine malice. The second category of charges could be uniquely summed up as the bullshit category. 

It never ceases to amaze us how the military can create and thrive off a culture where the rigid and harsh are glorified and then arbitrarily pick a seemingly routine action and say, “woah, you’ve gone too far.” Old Blood and Guts General Patton would absolutely lose his mind if saw some of the actions now being labeled as cruelty or oppression. Now, that is not to say that there is not a line and that one can indeed go too far in the modern military. However, that line looks more like a 5-year-olds crayon scribbling with the way these charges are inconsistently prosecuted.

In one command, the grizzled Sergeant Major can be viewed as one tough S.O.B who doesn’t take crap from anyone and then prosecuted for the same behaviors under another command as a result of Article 93. However, it really doesn’t matter which category your charges fall under. Whether it is a legitimate case where you went too far, or a bs case where the new PFC got his feelings hurt, your only answer is to fight back. That is to fight for your career, retirement, and your freedom because the military justice system will take it all from you if you let it. 

What Must the Prosecution Prove To Convict Under Article 93?

There are two specific charges that can be levied against you under Article 93 of the UCMJ. The elements that must be satisfied to convict under the most common charge are quite simple and unfortunately, that leaves a great deal of room for an opinion as to what is cruel or maltreatment. The charges are as follows:

Cruelty, Oppression, or Maltreatment of Subordinates

This is the most common charge and it only requires two elements to be satisfied. Those are;

(1) That (state the name (and rank) of the alleged victim) was subject to the orders of the accused

(2) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused [(was cruel toward) (oppressed) (maltreated)] (state the name of the alleged victim) by (state the manner alleged).

Meanwhile, the next charge comes with a great deal of specificity and we most often see out of military recruiting offices who are working with civilians prior to their entrance into the military. 

Allegations of cruelty could undermine or even destroy your military career. Contact Bilecki Law Group today for a free consultation into your case.

Prohibited Activities With Recruit Or Trainee By Person In Position Of Special Trust

With recruiting offices for every service branch in most major cities from sea to shining sea, this covers a wide swath of territory. There are separate categories and as such, it’s best to just list the elements that must be satisfied as we see them right out of the UCMJ.

Abuse of Training Leadership Position:

(1) That the accused was a (commissioned) (warrant) (noncommissioned) (petty) officer

(2) That the accused was in a training leadership position with respect to (state the name of the alleged victim), a specially protected junior member of the armed forces 

(3) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused engaged in prohibited sexual activity with (state the name of the alleged victim), a person the accused knew or reasonably should have known was a specially protected junior member of the armed forces.

Abuse of Position as a Military Recruiter

(1) That the accused was a (commissioned) (warrant) (noncommissioned) (petty) officer

(2) That the accused was a military recruiter

(3) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused engaged in prohibited sexual activity with (state the name of the alleged victim), a person the accused knew or reasonably should have known was (an applicant for military service) (a specially protected junior member of the armed forces who was enlisted under a delayed entry program).

It then goes on to define prohibited sexual activity as inappropriate physical intimacy which includes specific acts. It is important to note that consent is not a defense to this offense. So, if a 25-year-old Marine engages in consensual physical intimacy with a 19-year-old poolee, then violation has occurred, regardless of consent.

What’s The Worst Punishment That Can Happen Under Article 93?

Before we talk about the punishments, it is important to highlight the fact that the military justice system does not exist for the purpose of achieving justice. Rather, the military justice system exists for the singular purpose of maintaining military discipline and order. For this to be effective, they need to make public examples out of someone. So, that might mean that the accusation of cruelty seems mild, but if you let them, they will make that example out of you. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of complacency here that they won’t give you the max punishment.

The maximum punishment for cruelty, oppression, or maltreatment of subordinates is a dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 3 years confinement and a reduction in rank to E-1. That’s a hell of a price to pay and it doesn’t matter if you are sitting at 19 and a half years; they can still take everything from you on the testimony of some PFC and a command that wants to look tough on abuse.

Meanwhile, the maximum punishment for prohibited activities with a recruit or trainee is a dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 5 years confinement and a reduction in rank to E-1. Now, that’s a hell of a price to pay if some poolee or recruit wants out of their contract because they are getting cold feet and are trying to save face by saying you did something. 

How To Fight And Win Against Charges Under Article 93?

Perhaps one of the most known cases of abuse took place out of Parris Island when a Drill Instructor put a Muslim recruit in a dryer, tumbled him around, called him racist names and the recruit ultimately leaped to his death. That is a tragedy and exactly why Article 93 exists. However, most cases are far more nuanced than that. 

Just since 2017 there have been some 20 plus West Coast Marine Drill Instructors disciplined for abusing recruits. In our assessment, some of the charges fall into the legit category. Others smell much more like bs and took place under a command trying to show they were taking this seriously after the Parris Island case made all the news. 

When it comes to your defense, it doesn’t matter if you know you went a little too far or you are being prosecuted for complete garbage, your only option is to fight. If you don’t make yourself a harder target than the next guy, the military justice system will see you as an easy target to get their “example.” They will take everything from you if you don’t stand up and fight. 

Take The Fight To The Military Justice System

At Bilecki Law Group, we give the military justice system the last thing they want and that is an actual fight. Military prosecutors expect to get an easy conviction because they know this is a hot topic in the public square these days. Like they say, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. We are going to cede nothing to the prosecution and fight to take everything from them.

We’ll look at how many individuals brought charges against you and whether such charges are in keeping with your reputation in the military. If you pulled your buddy out of a burning AAV in Iraq and some PFC or recruit thinks you are too tough on them, we’re not going to let that sit. We’ll look at the circumstances around the orders deemed cruel and make the case that your actions were keeping with the realities of combat. 

The point is that we fight them until the very end because we know their command is looking for that easy win and “example” to scare others into compliance. Again, it doesn’t matter if you indeed went too far. This does not mean that your military career is over. We can fight to secure you the best possible outcome because we actually fight back. If you are facing investigation or charges under Article 93, don’t wait until it is too late. Reach out and give us a call. We’ll give you a free consultation and tell you exactly what you are facing. 

The tragedy of Article 93 charges is that they often hit a service member when they are in positions of authority and have already decided to make this a career. If you let the military justice system have their way, they will take it all from you. Don’t take these charges lightly and reach out to us. We’ll tell you what’s legit and what’s bs. Then, as long as you are willing to fight, so are we and we fight to win. 

Bilecki Law Group has been fighting for service members for years. Our experience is unequal. Our devotion to our clients is legendary. And our case history is some of the best in the business. Bilecki Law Group will help you fight back against charges under Article 93: Cruelty and Maltreatment

Facing an Allegation?
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Timothy James Bilecki

Military law attorney

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UCMJ Article 87b

Abuse of Position as a Military Recruiter

Frequently Asked Questions About Article 93

Yes, you can. Article 93 does not require the alleged victim to be under the direct chain of command of the accused officer. As long as the alleged victim is by some fashion required to obey the lawful orders of the accused, then charges may be leveled against the said accused officer.

Cruelty, oppression or maltreatment comes in many different forms. The Manual for Court Martial defines any form of assault or improper punishment as punishable under Article 93. Furthermore, sexual harassment could be defined as maltreatment if it is proven that the accused influenced, offered to influence, or threatened to harm the career, pay, or job of another person in exchange for sexual favors. What would not be considered a form of cruelty is if an officer requests a service member to perform a duty even though that duty may prove to be an imposition for said service member; this could include duties that are hazardous to the health of the service member.

Article 93 of the UCMJ authorizes a maximum sentence of:

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

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