UCMJ Article 134

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UCMJ Article 134 Attorney

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is a set of standards designed for service members. Its aim is to create a culture of conduct that aligns with the overall mission of the United States military. One example is UCMJ Article 134, which addresses cases of adultery. The reason why adultery is taken so seriously in the military is that it negatively affects a service member’s personal integrity and operational effectiveness.

Better understanding the implications and consequences of violating Article 134 can help service members avoid violations. It also allows them to know when they may need a military defense attorney from The Law Center P.C. to fight against an inaccurate allegation.

What Is UCMJ Article 134?

Article 134 of the UCMJ punishes extramarital sexual conduct among service members. This includes any type of sexual activity that occurs outside of one’s legally established marriage. The military deems this type of behavior to be in direct violation of good order and personal discipline. It is also viewed as giving insight into their lack of moral character. The concern is that this lack of discipline could extend into their responsibilities as a service member.

For a service member to be punished under Article 134, the following three elements must exist:

  • A verified act of engagement in wrongful extramarital conduct
  • Knowledge that the other party involved was married
  • The act either negatively affected the function of the military or harmed its public image

Consequences of Violating Article 134

There are a number of different penalties for anyone who is found guilty of violating Article 134. The severity of any punishment will be determined based on the gravity of the offense and if the guilty individual is a first-time or repeat offender.
Some possible consequences include:

  • Administrative action: For most first-time offenders, where the nature of the marital affair was discovered but had little to no bearing on the function of the military, various administrative penalties may be issued. This could include required counseling sessions, a reassignment, or even just a simple warning.
  • Reduction in rank or pay: If administrative actions seem to be insufficient to deter the incident from happening again, there can be reductions in the service member’s rank or pay. These could be temporary reductions or exist in perpetuity.
  • Formal reprimand: Sometimes, these instances will be permanently noted on the service member’s record. This could have significant implications when they try to advance their career in the military by seeking a promotion or new assignment.
  • Discharge: If the nature of the incident is too severe to keep the individual in the military, a formal discharge will ensue. This often happens for repeat offenders or when the act also involves other illegal activity, which has removed all trust in the individual to maintain their military position.
  • Legal proceedings: A case will escalate to a court-martial when other crimes are involved, such as sexual assault or drug abuse. Not only do these cases lead to a discharge of the service member, but they could also involve criminal charges in both military and civilian courts.


Q: Can Adultery Charges Be Pursued If Both Parties Are Separated?

A: While some people are unaware of this, it is true that adultery charges under Article 134 can still be pursued when both parties are no longer together. This happens in instances when there is no formal court order to indicate that both parties have legally separated. Without having this legal documentation as proof, the military views the marriage as still valid and does not exempt their service member from any extramarital sexual conduct charges.

However, having a defense attorney look into why the military is still advancing a case against you can help them uncover their motivations and negotiate a reduced or dismissed Article 134 charge.

Q: How Does the Military Determine If an Act of Adultery Impacts Good Order and Discipline?

A: The connection between an individual’s act of adultery and its impact on the good order and discipline of the military is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Factors that the military will look into are:

  • The rank of the service member who is accused of adultery
  • What the impact has been on the unit’s morale
  • If there have been any significant disruptions to the chain of command or military operations in general

The military will also take into consideration the severity of the adultery and whether the individual has a record of breaking these rules or is a first-time offender.

Q: Are Civilian Spouses Subject to UCMJ for Adultery?

A: A civilian spouse is not subject to the UCMJ within their own private lives. However, their actions can still have an impact on a service member who is required to live by the UCMJ.

For example, if a military member’s spouse commits adultery first, it could lead their partner to do the same. However, even if the service member may have felt that they had some authority within their own relationship to commit adultery in retaliation, it still does not dismiss their oath to abide by the regulations of the UCMJ, including Article 134.

If this scenario or anything similar has happened to you, consulting a military defense attorney can help you find ways to boost empathy for your situation and possibly reduce or remove the Article 134 charges.

Q: Can a Service Member Still Be Charged With Adultery If the Other Party Lied About Their Marital Status?

A: The unique circumstance where a single service member engages in sexual activity with someone who has lied about their marital status could still trigger Article 134 charges. However, this circumstance is more likely to only result in administrative punishment, if not completely dismissed, depending on the strength of your defense.

A military defense attorney can help you collect evidence to prove that you had no knowledge that the individual was married. Certain evidence, such as a text message where the other individual specifically states that they are single, can be a critical factor that either reduces or dismisses the charges entirely.

Contact The Law Center P.C. for Defense Support Today

If you have more questions about Article 134 or need support addressing an allegation that you have violated it, contact our military defense attorneys today. We are well-versed in Article 134 and are dedicated to providing whatever support is needed to help protect your rights under military law.


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