UCMJ Article 133

UCMJ Article 133

Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman

Conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman in the military is addressed under Article 133 of the UCMJ. According to the article itself, “There are certain moral attributes common to the ideal officer and perfect gentleman, a lack of which is indicated by acts of dishonesty, unfair dealing, indecency, indecorum, lawlessness, injustice, or cruelty. Not everyone is, or can be expected, to meet unrealistically high moral standards, but there is a limit of tolerance based on customs of the service and military necessity below which the personal standards of an officer, cadet, or midshipman cannot fall without seriously compromising the person’s standing as an officer, cadet or midshipman, or the person’s character as a gentleman.”  In other words, officers and those about to be officers, are expected to operate at a higher tier of integrity than civilian society or even the enlisted personnel they lead. Because officers, cadets, and midshipmen are held to a higher moral standard, this article includes acts made punishable by any other article. For example, an officer who is charged with stealing property under Article 121 of the UCMJ can additionally be charged under this article as well.


Maximum Possible Punishments for violations of Article 133

The maximum punishment according to UCMJ Article 133 is a Dismissal, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for a period not in excess of that authorized for the other crimes the accused is also convicted of. If no period of confinement is prescribed for the other conviction, the confinement period may last up to one year.


Understanding Article 133 of the UCMJ

Conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman under the UCMJ consists of two elements. Both elements must be proved by the government beyond a reasonable doubt in order to charge a service member with conduct unbecoming and include:

  1. That the accused did or omitted to do certain acts; and
  2. That, under the circumstances, these acts or omissions constituted conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

It is important to note that “gentleman” in this article includes both male and female commissioned officers, cadets, and midshipmen.  Specific examples of when a service member may be charged with this offense include, but are not limited to:

  1. Knowingly making a false official statement;
  2. Dishonorable failure to pay a debt;
  3. Cheating on an exam;
  4. Being drunk and disorderly in a public place;
  5. Public association with known prostitutes;
  6. Failing without good cause to support one’s family.


How do you defend against Article 133 charges for Conduct Unbecoming?

When you are facing the combined resources of the military as well as the current cultural climate, you need to be prepared to defend your career and your freedom. Crisp and Associates, LLC has a team of experienced trial attorneys who have won these cases. This team includes the firm’s founder, Jonathan Crisp, a highly respected former Army JAG with over 23 years of experience in military law and a sought-after speaker and lecturer on military law. Donald Gordon has litigated cases before the Discharge Review Board, the Board for Correction of Military Records, and the Board for Correction of Naval Records regarding a wide variety of matters and a diverse background of clients


If you are someone you know is facing Article 133 charges for Conduct Unbecoming in addition to other charges, you need to speak with a Military defense attorney right away. Please call Crisp and Associates Military at 888-347-1514 for a free consultation.

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