The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is the tome of military laws that every US service member must understand and recognize. Serving in the Armed Forces of the United States is a tremendous honor and doing so requires a higher degree of care than that expected of civilians. The Punitive Articles of the UCMJ dictate the various offenses that a servicemember may commit that can lead to severe punishment, up to and including imprisonment, Dishonorable Discharge, and forfeiture of all military pay and allowances.
UCMJ Article 90 pertains to Assaulting or Disobeying a Superior Officer. All members of the military must follow lawful orders and respect the chain of command. Doing your duty as a member of the military requires following orders issued to you by your superior officer. Refusing to follow a lawful order or worse, assaulting a superior officer in any way, can have dramatic repercussions on your military career and beyond.
Representing Service Members Charged With Article 90 Violation
Attorney Aaron Meyer completed his military career with the US Marines. He transitioned to practicing law, focusing on providing criminal defense counsel to servicemembers charged with criminal acts and UCMJ violations. Attorney Meyer believes in aggressive, focused, and detail-oriented defense representation. His defense philosophy has allowed the team at Aaron Meyer Law to maintain a defense record of zero convictions for past clients.
Attorney Aaron Meyer does not simply focus on fighting the charges his clients face; his defense philosophy revolves around the destruction of the prosecution’s case at the foundational level. This means careful review of the evidence brought forth by military prosecutors, examination of the conditions of his client’s arrest, and close analysis of whether his client’s Constitutional rights were upheld and protected throughout the ordeal in question.
If you need military defense counsel from a reliable and experienced attorney when facing UCMJ Article 90 charges, Attorney Aaron Meyer can help. He and his team provide a more robust level of defense representation than you would expect from a detailed military lawyer. While the majority of military defense lawyers are capable, competent, and committed to protecting their clients’ rights, few have the flexibility to offer the close, personalized, and comprehensive defense representation a private defense attorney can provide.
Article 90 Definitions for UCMJ
Article 90 of the UCMJ pertains to two separate, yet sometimes related, charges: disobeying lawful orders issued by a superior officer and assaulting a superior officer. Article 90 defines disobeying an order as including four elements:
- The officer in question issued a lawful order to the accused.
- The officer in question is a superior commissioned officer of the accused.
- The accused was cognizant of the superior officer’s rank.
- The accused willfully disobeyed the officer’s lawful command.
Under this definition, the distinction between a “lawful” command and an “unlawful” command is crucial. Military officers may not order their subordinates to engage in illegal or criminal activity, nor may they order their subordinates to conduct themselves in any way that would violate any article of the UCMJ. A subordinate may disagree with an order, but if a superior officer has issued the order and the order is lawful, the subordinate must, under the terms of their military contract and the laws of the UCMJ, obey the officer’s command.
Article 90 also contains clear regulations pertaining to any instance of a subordinate servicemember assaulting a superior officer. “Assault” may include the threat or offering of violence against the officer, striking the officer, or brandishing a weapon in a threatening manner against the officer. While a verbal threat will carry the same punitive weight as physically assaulting a superior officer, this offense will still lead to severe consequences for the accused if convicted.
Defending Against an UCMJ Article 90 Charge
Any service member charged with violating UCMJ Article 90 could face the maximum penalties allowable under this Article, including confinement for up to ten years, Dishonorable Discharge from military service, and total forfeiture of all pay and allowances. It’s vital for all service members to understand that during times of war, the UCMJ permits capital punishment for conviction of Article 90, but this is a very rare occurrence.
Defending against a charge of violating UCMJ Article 90 can be very difficult. Typically, the available defenses to a servicemember in this position include challenging the evidence in play or establishing evidence that the servicemember was unable to complete the order issued due to forces beyond their control. In some Article 90 cases, the dispute may boil down to the officer’s word against the word of the accused. The accused and their defense counsel would likely need to carefully review the officer’s record to determine if they had previous complaints filed against them or any other evidence that would indicate that the officer was not truthful in their statements.
It is also possible for the accused to attest that they were not in the appropriate mental state to carry out the officer’s order. For example, if the officer ordered a particularly onerous action, the accused may argue that they did not believe the order to be lawful. In some cases, it may be possible for the accused to plead down to a lesser charge under Article 89: Disrespecting a Superior Commissioned Officer.
Build Your Defense Against a Article 90 Charge Now
Military prosecutors tend to move much faster than civilian criminal courts. If you face charges of violating Article 90 of the UCMJ, it is imperative to secure legal counsel as soon as possible. The sooner you secure defense counsel, the sooner you can start building your defense. Attorney Aaron Meyer believes in swift, efficient, and aggressive defense for his clients. When you choose Aaron Meyer Law to defend you against charges of violating UCMJ Article 90, you can expect our team to carefully inspect every element of your case to provide the most comprehensive representation possible.
If you need legal counsel for a UCMJ Article 90 case, contact Aaron Meyer Law today and schedule a consultation with an experienced military defense attorney who can help you navigate your case with greater confidence.