Article 93 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) refers to the offense of “cruelty and maltreatment.” This is defined as conduct by a service member toward another person (who may or may not be military affiliated) that is cruel, abusive, oppressive, or harmful.
The key terms in Article 93 include “cruelty” and “maltreatment.” However, these words are not specifically defined anywhere in this section of the UCMJ. Instead, they are left open to broad interpretation by the military courts. They can encompass the full possible range of behaviors and conduct that violate the dignity and well-being of another person.
Some examples of conduct that may constitute cruelty and maltreatment under Article 93 include:
- Physical abuse
- Verbal abuse and threats
- Sexual harassment
- Incidences of hazing and bullying
These sorts of offenses will be taken very seriously by the military justice system. Left unchecked, they can:
- Cause unnecessary turmoil for residents of military bases.
- Harm the reputation of the U.S. military among the civilian population.
- Lead to a breakdown in cohesion and morale between members of the same unit.
Without a mechanism in place to address these violations swiftly and effectively, they could lead to military-wide cultural issues. These can threaten to break down the overall effectiveness of the military.
Due to the gravity of these situations, anyone implicated in an Article 93 case should consult with a qualified attorney as soon as possible. The consequences of a conviction for cruelty and maltreatment can be extremely severe. They may include:
- Dishonorable discharge
- Forfeiture of pay and allowances (partial or total)
- Loss of veteran’s benefits
If you find yourself facing the military justice system, seek a good criminal defense lawyer with experience in military cases. They can help you fully understand the charges being brought against you and build a comprehensive defense strategy. When successful, a criminal defense attorney can minimize the impact of the charges on your career and personal life.
UCMJ Article 93 and Military Protective Orders (MPOs)
The concept of a military protective order (MPO) is often relevant to UCMJ Article 93 cases. An MPO is a military court order analogous to the civilian concept of a restraining order or personal protective order (PPO). It can be issued to protect an alleged victim from further harm or contact by the accused. In an Article 93 case, the alleged victim may be advised to seek an MPO by their attorney, police officials, or personal support system. This can prevent the accused from contacting or approaching them going forward.
An MPO may be issued one of two ways: either by a military commander or a military judge. The order can be customized to include provisions such as:
- Requiring the accused to stay away from the alleged victim
- Prohibiting the accused from contacting the alleged victim
- Requiring the accused to surrender any weapons in their possession
In this way, an MPO is a responsive legal tool that can be applied to Article 93 cases and other dangerous situations. Just like a civilian PPO, violation of an MPO can result in additional criminal charges and penalties.
If an MPO is issued in connection with an Article 93 case, it is important for the accused to understand the terms of the order. They must also comply with them fully while working through their case to seek justice. Failure to comply with an MPO can result in additional charges and consequences. It will also readily be used as evidence against the accused in fully prosecuting the underlying Article 93 case.
Accused service members usually have no legal training. They may struggle to understand the charges brought against them. An experienced defense attorney can help them do so. It is important that you understand the full implications of both an Article 93 charge and the ensuing MPO. You and your attorney can work to develop a truly comprehensive defense strategy that considers the full picture.
What Are the Grounds for a Military Protective Order in an Article 93 Case?
To file a military protective order for an Article 93 infraction or other situation, the petitioner must provide some basic evidence supporting their case. These criteria can vary slightly depending on:
- The jurisdiction
- The perspective of the officials involved
- The unique nuances of an individual case
These are the basics:
- Evidence of Abuse: The petitioner must provide evidence of abuse to move forward with an MPO. This could be marks left from a physical assault or copies of threatening messages.
- Establish the Relationship: The petitioner must have a qualifying relationship with the person they are seeking an order against. This includes being married, living on a military base together, or having children together.
- Demonstrate Imminent Danger: They must demonstrate that they (and/or their children, property, etc.) remain in immediate danger of further harm if the requested MPO is not granted.
- Verify Military Affiliation: An MPO is only relevant to military cases. Therefore, the petitioner or respondent must have been affiliated with the military in a qualifying way, such as by being an active-duty service member.
A military protective order can be filed pursuant to an Article 93 maltreatment case. It can also be filed in many other crimes of abuse, including:
- Domestic violence
- Sexual assault
In short, anything that might cause you to file a personal protective order, or PPO, in the civilian world will likely also be relevant grounds for pursuing an MPO. An MPO is designed to provide practical and enforceable (but temporary) protections to victims of abusive behavior in a military setting.
How Long Does a Military Protective Order Last in an Article 93 Case?
The specific enforcement duration of each military protective order will be dependent upon:
- The court’s findings
- The specific circumstances of the case
- The jurisdiction in which it was issued
Generally speaking, MPOs are designed to be temporary orders that typically last between 14 and 30 days. Victims are meant to use this time to pursue more permanent solutions to the issues they are facing. However, MPOs can also be extended and renewed by the court as needed.
Get Experienced Legal Help for Your Article 93 Maltreatment Case: Aaron Meyer Law
If you are facing an Article 93 case, you are likely already aware that the consequences can be extremely serious. Aaron Meyer Law is proud to offer a full range of military and criminal defense services to our active-duty service members and veterans. Do not let one difficult situation derail your entire future. Robust legal defense services from Aaron Meyer Law can help you through this trying time.