Military personnel are held to a higher standard of behavior than non-military civilians. There are certain moral codes that service members must adhere to, and if they do not, they can be prosecuted in military court. The moral code for the behavior of military personnel is the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The UCMJ is the foundation of the military justice system for the United States Armed Forces. This code of laws and procedures presides over any legal case involving the military and all National Guard, Reserve, and active-duty military members. Violating the UCMJ can have serious consequences.
As a military criminal defense attorney, Aaron Meyer Law has fought for the rights of service members with the same ferocity that he served with as a Marine Officer. As a former Judge Advocate in the United States Marine Corps, he knows all aspects of a court-martial. He believes in the clients he represents. Aaron Meyer Law fights hard to protect the rights of his clients and right the unfair wrongs oftentimes imparted on our nation’s warriors. Furthermore, he has been highly successful in doing so. If you need a strong legal advocate, do not hesitate to contact Aaron Meyer Law.
What Is Article 134?
The UCMJ serves as a complete set of laws that include criminal acts such as murder, drunk driving, larceny, rape, use of illegal substances, and others. It also serves to punish and discipline ill conduct in general for service members. For example, Article 134 of the UCMJ, which is known as the “General Articles,” lists a wide range of conduct that would paint the service in a bad light or devalue the upstanding reputation of the military. These actions are prohibited for members of the military to engage in. Behavior that violates local civil law or foreign law can also be punished under Article 134, if that behavior discredits the armed forces. In charging a service member with a violation of this article, the burden is on the government to prove that not only was a criminal act performed, but it was detrimental to the reputation of the armed forces. However, precedent cases make it much easier for them to do so.
What Crimes Are Covered in Article 134?
Of the 54 crimes covered under Article 134, sexual conduct is a blanket category that is meant to cover:
- Extramarital sexual conduct, or adultery
- Sexual misconduct between a commanding officer and their subordinate
- Non-traditional sexual arrangements
- Any consensual acts of sex considered indecent and potentially debilitating to the reputation of the armed forces.
Other acts that are likely to be tried under this article include kidnapping, animal abuse, and making disloyal statements. The punishment for a conviction of one of these crimes is also outlined in the UCMJ. Some punishments involve tens of years in prison, loss of military status, loss of benefits like healthcare and retirement, and worse.
Charging Someone With Adultery Under Article 134
There are three things that must occur for a conviction of adultery under Article 134:
- The accuser must have proof of the sexual act occurring.
- Either of the involved sexual parties must be married to someone else.
- The conduct must have been detrimental to the reputation of the armed forces.
This last detail is important because, under the new statutes on the applications of these laws, the conduct itself is no longer enough to bring a conviction. Proof of defamation of military reputation must be included for a conviction. If all three of these are legitimate, the punishing commanders can apply many factors in determining the convicted member’s punishment. Some of the components of a case that are used to decide sentencing include:
- Rank, marital status, and position in the armed forces of the accused
- Rank, marital status, and relative position in comparison to the accused of the other party involved
- Rank of the accused’s spouse and status of that spouse
- The impact the act of adultery had on the involved parties’ abilities to perform their military duties
- The extent of government resources and time that was involved in the committing of adultery
- The blatancy of the adultery, other concurrent violations of the UCMJ, and whether the accused stopped the misconduct after being warned
- If the parties were legally separated at the time
- The extent of the current and potential defamatory impact on the accused’s unit or the unit of the other party
- The circumstances of the adultery (whether it was an ongoing matter or an isolated event, when it first occurred and ended, if it ended, etc.)
Maximum Punishment for Adultery According to Article 134
The level of punishment set forth by Article 134 varies as much as the severity of the crimes included in the article. The maximum punishable sentence for adultery is dishonorable discharge. This also includes forfeiting benefits, forfeiting pay, and up to one year in confinement. The punishment is ultimately considered by officers and courts-martial according to the severity of the violation and the level of effect it had on the reputation of the armed forces.
This is why it is so important for those facing conviction and punishment for adultery under this article to hire a private military defense lawyer to represent them and stand by their side. These cases require extensive knowledge of the UCMJ and skill in the application of military case law. It is not worth taking chances with your future by attempting to represent yourself.
Hiring an Attorney to Protect Your Rights
If you are being served an injustice and accused of crimes deemed unlawful and worthy of punishment under Article 134 of the UCMJ, you need an attorney who knows how to win these cases. Aaron Meyer Law is that attorney. As a military defense attorney, Aaron Meyer Law has amassed more acquittals on full jury-trial than any other West Coast military attorney, past or present. You can be his next successful case. Call Aaron Meyer Law to significantly improve your chances of getting a favorable ruling on your Article 134 adultery charges.