UCMJ Article 134
Adultery (General Article)
Adultery in the military is addressed under Article 134 of the UCMJ, also known as the “General Article,” which is a list of prohibited conduct that is of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces or is prejudicial to good order and discipline. Although adultery is often difficult to prove, commanders at the lowest appropriate levels are given great leeway in deciding what is considered to bring discredit upon their unit or what is prejudicial to its good order and discipline. It is also important to note that single service members can be charged with adultery if the person with whom they had intercourse is married at the time of the act.
Maximum Possible Punishments for violations of Article 134: Adultery
The maximum punishment according to Article 134 (Adultery) is a Dishonorable Discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for one year.
Understanding Article 134 (Adultery) of the UCMJ
The crime of adultery under the UCMJ consists of three elements. All three of these elements must be proved by the government beyond a reasonable doubt in order to charge a service member with adultery and include:
- That the accused wrongfully had sexual intercourse with a certain person;
- That, at the time, the accused or the other person was married to someone else; and
- That, under the circumstances, the conduct of the accused was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.
Article 134 also sets forth nine factors a commander should consider when deciding whether a service member’s adulterous actions are prejudicial to his or her unit’s good order and discipline or are of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces:
- The accused’s marital status, rank, or position;
- The co-actor’s marital status, rank, position, or relationship to the armed forces;
- The military status of the accused’s spouse or spouse of the co-actor, or their relationship to the armed forces;
- The impact, if any, of the adulterous relationship on the ability of the accused, the co-actor, or the spouse of either to perform their military duties;
- The misuse, if any, of government time and resources to facilitate the commission of the conduct;
- Whether the conduct persisted despite counseling or orders to desist; the flagrancy of the conduct, such as whether any notoriety ensued; whether the adulterous act was accompanied by other violations of the UCMJ;
- The negative impact of the conduct on the units of the accused, the co-actor or the spouse of either of them, such as a detrimental effect on unit morale, teamwork, and efficiency;
- Whether the accused or co-actor was legally separated; and
- Whether the adulterous conduct involves an ongoing or recent relationship or is remote in time.
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 17 years of experience in military law and a sought-after speaker and lecturer on military law. In 2015 the firm recruited R. Davis Younts, a former prosecutor who was the number one rated Senior Defense Counsel in the Air Force and has taught at the Army and Air Force JAG Schools and successfully achieved acquittals in multiple rape, sexual assault, and sexual contact cases in courts-martial in multiple branches of the service.
If you are someone you know is facing Article 134 charges for adultery 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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