UCMJ Article 88
Contempt Toward Officials
The MCM states any service member may be prosecuted under Article 88 (Contempt Toward Officials) if they use “contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Security, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present.”
In order to be prosecuted under Article 88, the prosecution must prove:
- the accused was a commissioned officer of the U.S. armed forces;
- the accused used certain words against an official or legislature named in the article;
- that by an act of the accused these words came to the knowledge of a person other than the accused; and
- that the words used were contemptuous, either in themselves or by virtue of the circumstances under which they were used.
If the words were used against a Governor or legislature, the prosecution must also prove that the accused was then present in the State, Commonwealth, or possession of the Governor or legislature concerned.
Understanding Article 88 (Contempt Toward Officials) of the UCMJ
To be convicted of an Article 88 charge, the official or legislature, against whom the service member spoke, must have been in office at the time the offense occurred. The terms “Congress” and “legislature” do not refer to specific individuals, but rather the institutions as a whole. The term “Governor” applies to a “Governor” only, not his subordinate or staff. A violation of Article 88 (Contempt Toward Officials) may occur in an official or a private capacity, however criticism and opinions expressed during a political discussion are not, normally, a chargeable offense. The service member being charged must have circulated a written publication or spoken the offensive words in the presence of military subordinates.
Maximum Possible Punishment for Violations of Article 88
Service members convicted of an Article 88 violation face a maximum punishment of dismissal, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and 1 year of forced confinement.
How do you defend against Article 88 – Contempt Toward Officials charges?
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 or someone you know is facing Article 88 charges for Contempt Toward Officials, you need to speak with a Military defense attorney right away. Please call Crisp and Associates Military at 888-258-1653 for a free consultation.
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