Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman

Under Article 133, of the United States Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman is an offense that subjects a service member to a court martial.

An “officer” is understood to include cadets, commissioned officers, and midshipmen of both sexes, hence, the offense is often referred to as conduct unbecoming.

Generally, conduct unbecoming is viewed as a catchall offense; as the Manual for Courts-Martial points out, any other offenses listed in the UCMJ could be considered a violation of Article 133 providing the conduct was “unbecoming” of an officer or a gentleman.

A gentleman is considered a “man of honor,” and with an elevated standard of manners and morals. The aims of Article 133 are to preserve the integrity of the military’s officers and its ranks. In the military, integrity is stressed as one of the most important leadership traits, and officers are expected to adhere to the highest standards of ethics.

Officers who are facing an Article 133 charge should immediately consult with a military defense attorney from Crisp & Associates, LLC.


Generally, the elements of an Article 133 offense include:

  • The accused committed a wrongful act;
  • The accused omitted to do an act they were supposed to do; and
  • Under the circumstances, the acts or omissions resulted in conduct that was unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman.

For a service member to be charged with violating Article 133, his or her conduct must have disgraced the person or officer, or seriously compromised the officer’s character as a respectable officer and a gentleman.

Examples of poor conduct, include:

  • Dishonesty
  • Indecency
  • Cruelty
  • Injustice
  • Lawlessness
  • Stealing
  • Being drunk and disorderly in public
  • Publicly associating with known prostitutes
  • Using defamatory language to another officer
  • Knowingly making a false statement
  • Failure to pay a debt
  • Cheating on an exam
  • Without good cause, failing to support the officer’s family

The punishment for a violation of Article 133 may include dismissal, the forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for the most similar offense for which punishment is described in the Manual, or if none applies, for one year.

If you’re facing an Article 133 charge, your military career is at stake. Contact Crisp & Associates, LLC for nationwide and worldwide representation. We are available 24 hours a day to take your call!