UCMJ Article 99: Misbehavior Before the Enemy

Should any service member of the United States armed forces misbehave in the presence of the enemy in a time of warfare, he or she will be subject to Article 99 of the UCMJ. Article 99 broadly covers many different wartime charges. Actions of cowardice, failure to perform orders, abandonment of a post, and the unnecessary risk to both lives and equipment could all incur punishment under this article.

  • Article 99 encompasses many different offenses, but they all have a maximum sentence of death if referred capital. Would you gamble your life away for what could have been a miscommunication or mistake that occurred in the fog of war?
  • Even if the death penalty is off the table, you could be dishonorably discharged from the military, decisively ending your military career forever.
  • Your healthcare, retirement, and paycheck will be forfeited and taken from you the moment you’re convicted of any crime under Article 99.

We are the last line of defense against a government that seeks to put you behind bars or worse—take your life. Start fighting back TODAY by making one call to Bilecki & Tipon.

Defining Article 99 of the UCMJ

soldier saluting the US FlagEvery article under the uniform code of military justice requires prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a handful of critical assumptions—known as elements—to convict you of a crime. Article 99 covers nine unique charges, each with its own set of elements which must be proven.

  1. Running away;
  2. Shamefully abandoning, surrendering, or delivering up command;
  3. Endangering safety of a command, unit, place, ship or military property;
  4. Casting away arms or ammunition
  5. Cowardly conduct;
  6. Quitting place of duty to plunder or pillage;
  7. Causing false alarms;
  8. Willfully failing to do the utmost to encounter enemy;
  9. Failing to afford relief and assistance

Summary of the Elements of Article 99

Article 99 governs a vast series of wartime charges which may apply to both senior officers and service members under their command. Dereliction of duty acts of cowardice and needless endangerment of supplies and personnel are the primary reasons why a service member would incur accusations under Article 99.

Military Defense Attorney for Article 99 of the UCMJ

As with all wartime charges, the muddle of facts, hearsay and conjecture will profoundly affect the outcome of your case.

A private investigation into the events in question is paramount to securing the best possible verdict during your court-martial.

Below are just some of the questions we’ll consider while preparing your case:

  • Who is providing testimony for the government? What is their relation to you and to the circumstances surrounding the offense? Are other witnesses available who saw your actions from a different context? There will likely be many witnesses, but not all witnesses were privy to the critical moments when you made the fateful decision. Identifying strong witnesses and limiting the damage done by the government’s witnesses will likely be the key to victory.
  • What actions did the enemy take which prompted this decision? Did the actions catch everyone off guard? How much chaos was occurring at the time of the decision? Did you have access credible and reliable information? All of this must be considered before passing judgment on a service member, especially if that judgment labels him or her a coward and incurs a possible death sentence.

Bilecki & Tipon knows how to win unwinnable cases. Before you ever consider throwing in the towel, make one call to Bilecki & Tipon for a free review and consultation into your case.

Request A Free Case Evaluation

Experienced Military Defense Lawyers for Article 99 Charges

Wartime charges demand warrior representation and advocacy. Bilecki & Tipon has been fighting and winning cases for United States service men and women for years—many of whom had nowhere else to turn. 

Bilecki & Tipon are court-martial attorneys who will help you fight back against charges under Article 99: Misbehavior Before the Enemy

Frequently Asked Questions About Article 99: Misbehavior Before the Enemy

What Is the Maximum Possible Punishment for Article 99?

Article 99 covers a huge range of criminal acts perpetrated during wartime. Despite the unique nature of each offense, a maximum sentence of death may be leveled upon any service member who is found guilty of any charge under Article 99 if the case was referred capital. 
If a death sentence is not requested by the government, or if the defense secures a lesser included offense for its client, then the government may consider other charges against the service member, sentencing for convictions of these other charges may include:

  • Confinement
  • Dishonorable discharge
  • Forfeiture of all pay and allowances

What Are the Lesser Included Offenses under Article 99?

A lesser included offense may be considered when mitigating factors limit the scope of the original crime. The lesser included offenses under Article 99 include: 

Running away:

  • Article 85: Desertion with intent to avoid hazardous or important service
  • Article 86: Absence without authority; going from an appointed place of duty

Endangering the safety of a command, unit, place, ship, or military property

Casting away arms or ammunition:

Cowardly conduct:

Quitting place of duty to plunder or pillage:

  • Article 86(2): Going from an appointed place of duty

In addition to these lesser included offenses, all offenses under Article 99 have the lesser included offense of Article 80.

Other Articles of the UCMJ



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