UCMJ Article 133 Conduct Unbecoming an Officer

Home | UCMJ Article 133 Conduct Unbecoming an Officer

UCMJ Article 133 Attorney

For the military to be effective at its job, it holds its members to a high standard. Military personnel are held to a higher standard of conduct than your average civilian. Officers are held to an even higher standard than that. These standards aren’t maintained unless there are consequences for violating them. UCMJ Articles are part of setting the expectations and standards for the military. UCMJ Article 133 is the legal mechanism by which officers are held accountable for a violation of standards. It carries with it serious consequences. It is, though, something that can be argued against with a strong defense. We at The Law Center P.C. help officers fight Article 133 charges. We are ready to mount a defense on behalf of those charged with Conduct Unbecoming an Officer.

UCMJ Article 133

UCMJ Article 133 addresses the issue of a military officer participating in conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman. It should be noted that, in this case, “gentleman” is meant to refer to both male and female officers. Commissioned officers, midshipmen, and cadets are all officers that Article 133 may hold accountable.

What qualifies as “conduct unbecoming” can be a nebulous concept. That makes these charges both difficult to combat and, at the same time, more manageable to mount a defense against in the hands of a skilled military lawyer. The conduct in question must be something that hurts an officer’s standing and compromises their position as an authority figure and representative of the military. To prove their case to a court-martial, the prosecution must demonstrate two things:

  • The officer either committed certain acts or failed to act in a manner that they should have.
  • The action or lack of action was unbecoming as an officer and gentleman.

Because those two things must be proven, two avenues of defense are present. Your lawyer could argue that the acts in question didn’t occur by demonstrating problems and flaws with the evidence presented. If the evidence is overwhelming, a talented lawyer may be able to argue why the actions in question were not actually unbecoming and are not worthy of the punishment—which can include dismissal, loss of pay and allowances, and confinement.

Article 133 Examples

Some examples of conduct unbecoming include:

  • Being drunk and disorderly in a public place
  • Attempting to commit a crime
  • Lying in an official statement
  • Failing to pay debts
  • Cheating on an exam or training exercise
  • Using racial slurs, insults, or defamatory language
  • Making a crude joke or statement toward other officers or military personnel, whether directly or indirectly
  • Lying to a superior officer or peer
  • Associating with known prostitutes
  • Failing to support one’s family (without good cause)


Q: What Is Considered Conduct Unbecoming?

A: Conduct unbecoming is a nebulous concept that isn’t clearly defined in UCMJ Article 133. This means that it’s a broad brush that could be used to describe a wide array of behavior. The basic idea here is that there is a standard of behavior, conduct, and character that an officer in the military is meant to live by, particularly in their official capacity. This standard is above that of civilians and enlisted soldiers. Conduct unbecoming is going to be anything that doesn’t meet that standard. It is anything that could be considered dishonorable or disgraceful. It typically includes actions that involve:

  • Injustice
  • Cruelty
  • Unfairness in dealing with others
  • Indecency
  • Dishonesty

Not living up to these standards is seen as something that will compromise the standing and authority of an officer.

Q: What Are the Consequences for Violating UCMJ Article 133?

A: The consequences for conduct unbecoming can be significant and can risk taking away the career an officer has worked so long to build. If found by a court-martial to have committed an act that is unbecoming of an officer, then an officer may be subject to losing all pay and allowances, dismissal, and confinement. The confinement will last as long as the authorized confinement period for any other convictions related to the behavior in question. If there is no other confinement authorized, then the confinement period shall not last longer than one year.

Q: How Is Conduct Unbecoming Proven?

A: There are two elements of an Article 133 charge that must be proven to a court-martial. They are:

  • The accused committed certain acts.
  • Those actions, under the circumstances, were conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman.

In this case, it’s important to realize that the term ‘gentleman’ is treated as gender-neutral and can apply to either a male or female officer. For the purposes of this article, ‘officer’ refers to any commissioned officer, midshipman, or cadet.

Q: How Can a Lawyer Help With UCMJ Article 133 Charges?

A: Quality representation could mean the difference between keeping your career and honor or losing it all. With so much at stake, it’s important that you not leave anything up to chance. You want to have someone you trust to defend you and your rights, not someone just assigned to the case. When working with an experienced military lawyer, like those at The Law Center P.C., you can work with a team that’s dedicated to:

  • Investigating every aspect of your case
  • Attacking the quality of the evidence and coherence of the case made against you
  • Ensuring that you get a fair hearing

Get Help With Defending Your Career

Conduct unbecoming can end a military career that an officer fought hard to build. That’s not something you should give up without a fight. UCMJ Article 133 charges have been successfully defended before and, with the right legal team, you may be able to keep the career and standing that you’ve worked to achieve. However, to defend against these charges, you need a team that has experience, a deep understanding of military law and protocol, and an understanding of what makes for a strong defense. At The Law Center P.C., you can find a team ready to make a thorough investigation of your case and put together a sterling defense on your behalf. Contact us today to discuss your case.


Map & Location