What Is the Punishment for Article 134?

Facing any legal charges can feel extremely intimidating, but facing charges as a military service member can be even more stressful. The U.S. holds its service members to strict rules, protocols, and codes of conduct. The Uniform Code of Military Justice, which serves as legal canon for the U.S. military, can be extremely difficult to navigate, however. UCMJ Article 134 can feel particularly ambiguous, with many people asking: “What is the punishment for Article 134?”

Where to Find Article 134

A recent copy of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is required to be uploaded onto the Internet, as per Article 137 of the document. This means that any individual, whether a military service member, a legal representative, or a civilian, can look up the UCMJ. This is also true for the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM).

Article 134 is within the 10th subchapter of the UCMJ, which is dedicated to punitive articles. It is the last article in this section and, in some ways, serves as a catch-all punitive article. It is simply titled: “General Article.” To access detailed information on Article 134, you will need to use the most recent edition of the Manual for Courts-Martial under the Punitive Charges section.

Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice

One reason that Article 134 is more difficult to decipher, is that the neglects and disorders that are considered offenses under this article are not specifically listed in the article. Instead, it highlights that it is not tolerable for a service member to conduct themself in any way that discredits the military or somehow subverts the discipline and order of the armed forces.

This section of the UCMJ also indicates that the offenses categorized in Article 134 should be non-capital offenses. It also states that any of the three types of court-martial, general, special, or summary, may be used to address the violation of Article 134. This alone shows that the crimes falling under Article 134 range in severity.

Possible Charges Under Article 134

Given that Article 134 serves to condemn any actions that involve unacceptable conduct, discipline, or order in the armed forces, there are a host of possible charges. Some of the potential Article 134 charges include:

  • Abuse of Animals
  • Adultery
  • Bigamy
  • Bribery
  • Child Endangerment
  • Child Pornography
  • Cohabitation
  • Debt
  • Drunkenness
  • Firearm negligence
  • Fraternization
  • Gambling (with a subordinate)
  • Language
  • Self-injury (not to avoid service)
  • Soliciting (someone else to commit an offense)
  • Straggling

This list is far from comprehensive, and each separate title has details and regulations specific to it. Under each separate section, such as “Animal Abuse,” you will find five subheadings:

  1. Text of statute
  2. Elements
  3. Explanation
  4. Maximum punishment
  5. Sample specification

While it is possible to specifically research Article 134 online, the information and particularly the implications can feel overwhelming for someone without legal experience. This is one reason that finding legal representation can be helpful and provide guidance when dealing with Article 134 charges.

Charges You Can Face Under Article 134

As is the case for other criminal charges, the maximum charge will vary along with the severity of the offense committed. Take animal abuse, for example. Abuse, abandonment, or neglect of an animal can result in a year of confinement, losing all pay and allowances, and a bad conduct discharge. A sexual act committed with an animal or causing the death of an animal can result in 5 years of confinement, losing all pay and allowances, and a dishonorable discharge.

Other charges, such as those of child pornography, are taken far more seriously. Viewing child pornography can result in 10 years of confinement, losing all pay and allowances, and a dishonorable discharge. Producing child pornography can result in 30 years of confinement alongside the forfeiture of pay and allowances and a dishonorable discharge.


Q: What Is the Maximum Punishment for Article 134?

A: Given that Article 134 includes a range of conduct violations, asking what the maximum punishment for Article 134 is not particularly helpful. Instead, you should be consulting with a seasoned legal representative and referencing the Manual for Courts-Martial to see which punishments could apply to your case. A seasoned attorney can also help you evaluate your case and try to minimize the severity of the penalties you may face.

Q: What Is the Maximum Punishment for Fraternization in Article 134?

A: Fraternization is essentially forming a relationship with someone who is not accepted within the armed forces. For example, a superior officer befriending a subordinate or having too close of a relationship with them may lead to issues of order in their unit or may lead others to question if there is favoritism at play. The maximum punishment for fraternization as outlined in the MCM is confinement for 2 years, having to forfeit all allowances and pay, and dismissal from service.

Q: What Evidence Can Be Used in My Article 134 Case?

A: In addition to the UCMJ and the MCM, another common term is the Military Rules of Evidence (MRE). The MRE are found within a specific section of the MCM and outline what types of evidence can and cannot be used for or against you in your case. For example, hearsay is generally not permitted as evidence in court-martial. You can refer to the MCM to learn more, or speak with a qualified legal representative.

Q: What Are Possible Charges for Adultery in the Military?

A: Extramarital sexual conduct is still considered unacceptable within the military and violates the UCMJ’s Article 134. While it is possible that the party or parties involved will get off with a lesser charge, given that there is no minimum charge outlined, the penalties fall to the court-martial to decide. Maximum charges include one year of confinement, forfeiting of all pay and allowances, and a dishonorable discharge.

Contact Aaron Meyer Law

If you are facing charges under Article 134, you may be feeling very overwhelmed, especially as you consider its possible ramifications in your military career. Having a seasoned legal attorney who can fight your case, guide you through military law, and stand by you when you need it most is one way you can bring yourself greater confidence and peace of mind. If you are looking for a legal ally, reach out to Aaron Meyer Law today.

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