Punitive Articles of the UCMJ

An Overview of UCMJ Articles 77–134

Image shows a gavel next to a book labeled "manual for court-martial united states." Text reads: "Punitive article examples from the uniform code of military justice: Article 86 - absence without leave (AWOL); article 104 - aiding the enemy; article 112 - drunk on duty; article 133 - conduct unbecoming an officer and gentlement; article 134-11 - debt, dishonorably failing to pay"

Image by Elise Degarmo © The Balance 2019

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is the bedrock of military law. The UCMJ is a federal law, enacted by Congress. Articles 77 through 134 of the UCMJ are known as the "punitive articles." these are specific offenses which, if violated, can result in punishment by court-martial. Many will also likely have civilian court cases as well if other local laws were broken too such as driving drunk to rape or murder. 

The UCMJ and the Manual for Court Martial (MCM)

The law requires the Commander-in-Chief (The President of the United States) to implement the provisions of the UCMJ. The President does this via an executive order known as the "Manual for Court Martial" (MCM). Chapter 4 of the MCM includes, and expands on the punitive articles. The articles are broken into the following sections:

  • The Text: This is the exact text of the article, as Congress approved it in the UCMJ.
  • Elements: These are the specifics of the offense. To support a finding of "guilty," the government must prove each element of the offense, beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Explanation: The explanation defines terms, and clarifies the elements, based on previous court decisions.
  • Lesser Included Offense: These are lesser offenses that a military court may still find an accused guilty of, even if the court finds the accused not guilty of the originally charged offense. For example, "Manslaughter," under Article 119 is a lesser included offense of "Murder," under Article 118. If a military court finds the accused not guilty of the crime of Murder, the court can still find the accused guilty of Manslaughter, without the government having to amend the charges.
  • Maximum Permissible Punishments: These are the *maximum* punishments that a general court-martial can award toward a particular offense. While not specifically stated, a general court-martial can also reduce a person's grade. Most generals court martial reduce the convicted person's grade to the lowest enlisted rank (E-1) when punishment includes time in prison or a punitive discharge.

Who Is Subject to the UCMJ?

Articles 2 and 3 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) outline who is subject to the code and all of its regulations, including the punitive articles (Articles 77–134).

Overview of the Punitive Articles (Articles 77–134)

Each of the punitive articles of the UCMJ is listed below with a brief description of the offense the article covers. The list is long and fairly explanatory of the chargeable offenses of the UCMJ. 

Article 77 - Principals: Association - Article 77 does not define an offense. Its purpose is to make clear that a person need not personally perform the acts necessary to constitute an offense to be guilty of it.

Article 78 - Accessory after the fact

Article 79 - Conviction of lesser included offenses

Article 80 - Attempts

Article 81 - Conspiracy

Article 82 - Solicitation

Article 83 - Fraudulent enlistment, appointment, or separation

Article 84 - Effecting unlawful enlistment, appointment, or separation

Article 85 - Desertion

Article 86 - Absence without leave (AWOL)

Article 87 - Missing movement

Article 88 - Contempt toward officials

Article 89 - Disrespect toward a superior commissioned officer

Article 90 - Assaulting or willfully disobeying superior commissioned officer

Article 91 - Insubordinate conduct toward warrant officer, noncommissioned officer, or petty officer

Article 92 - Failure to obey order or regulation

Article 93 - Cruelty and maltreatment

Article 94 - Mutiny and sedition

Article 95 - Resistance, flight, breach of arrest, and escape

Article 96 - Releasing prisoner without proper authority

Article 97 - Unlawful detention

Article 98 - Noncompliance with procedural rules

Article 99 - Misbehavior before the enemy

Article 100 - Subordinate compelling surrender

Article 101 - Improper use of countersign

Article 102 - Forcing a safeguard

Article 103 - Captured or abandoned property

Article 104 - Aiding the enemy

Article 105 - Misconduct as a prisoner

Article 106/a - Spies / Espionage

Article 107 - False official statements

Article 108 - Military property of the United States—sale, loss, damage, destruction, or wrongful disposition

Article 109 - Property other than military property of the United States—waste, spoilage, or destruction

Article 110 - Improper hazarding of vessel

Article 111 - Drunken or reckless operation of vehicle, aircraft, or vessel

Article 112 - Drunk on duty

Article 112a - Wrongful use, possession, etc., of controlled substances

Article 113 - Misbehavior of sentinel or lookout

Article 114 - Dueling

Article 115 - Malingering

Article 116 - Riot or breach of peace

Article 117 - Provoking speeches or gestures

Article 118 - Murder

Article 119 - Manslaughter

Article 120 - Rape and carnal knowledge 

Article 120 - Rape, sexual assault, and other sexual misconduct.

Article 120a - Stalking

Article 121 - Larceny and wrongful appropriation

Article 122 - Robbery

Article 123 - Forgery

Article 123a - Making, drawing, or uttering check, draft, or order without sufficient funds

Article 124 - Maiming

Article 125 - Sodomy

Article 126 - Arson

Article 127 - Extortion

Article 128 - Assault

Article 129 - Burglary

Article 130 - Housebreaking

Article 131 - Perjury

Article 132 - Frauds against the United States

Article 133 - Conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman

Article 134 - General article

Article 134-1 - Abusing public animal

Article 134-2 - Adultery

Article 134-3 - Assault—indecent

Article 134-4 - Assault—with intent to commit murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, robbery, sodomy, arson, burglary, or housebreaking

Article 134-5 - Bigamy

Article 134-6 - Bribery and graft

Article 134-7 - Burning with intent to defraud

Article 134-8 - Check, worthless, making and uttering—by dishonorably failing to maintain funds

Article 134-9 - Cohabitation, wrongful

Article 134-10 - Correctional custody—offenses against

Article 134-11 - Debt, dishonorably failing to pay

Article 134-12 - Disloyal statements

Article 134-13 - Disorderly conduct, drunkenness

Article 134-14 - Drinking liquor with prisoner

Article 134-15 - Drunk prisoner

Article 134-16 - Drunkenness—incapacitation for performance of duties through prior wrongful indulgence in intoxicating liquor or any drug

Article 134-17 - False or unauthorized pass offenses

Article 134-18 - False pretenses, obtaining services under

Article 134-19 - False swearing

Article 134-20 - Firearm, discharging—through negligence

Article 134-21 - Firearm, discharging—willfully, under such circumstances as to endanger human life

Article 134-22 - Fleeing scene of accident

Article 134-23 - Fraternization

Article 134-24 - Gambling with subordinate

Article 134-25 - Homicide, negligent

Article 134-1 - Impersonating a commissioned, warrant, noncommissioned, or petty officer, or an agent or official

Article 134-26 - Indecent acts or liberties with a child

Article 134-27 - Indecent exposure

Article 134-28 - Indecent language

Article 134-29 - Indecent acts with another

Article 134-30 - Jumping from vessel into the water

Article 134-31 - Kidnapping

Article 134-32 - Mail: taking, opening, secreting, destroying, or stealing

Article 134-33 - Mails: depositing or causing to be deposited obscene matters in

Article 134-34 - Misprision of serious offense

Article 134-35 - Obstructing justice

Article 134-36 - Wrongful interference with an adverse administrative proceeding

Article 134-37 - Pandering and prostitution

Article 134-38 - Parole, Violation of

Article 134-39 - Perjury: subornation of

Article 134-40 - Public record: altering, concealing, removing, mutilating, obliterating, or destroying

Article 134-41 - Quarantine: medical, breaking

Article 134-42 - Reckless Endangerment

Article 134-43 - Requesting commission of an offense

Article 134-44 - Restriction, breaking

Article 134-45 - Seizure: destruction, removal, or disposal of property to prevent

Article 134-46 - Self-injury without intent to avoid service

Article 134-47 - Sentinel or lookout: offenses against or by

Article 134-48 - Soliciting another to commit an offense

Article 134-49 - Stolen property: knowingly receiving, buying, concealing

Article 134-50 - Straggling

Article 134-51 - Testify: wrongful refusal

Article 134-52 - Threat or hoax: bomb

Article 134-53 - Threat, communicating

Article 134-54 - Unlawful entry

Article 134-55 - Weapon: concealed, carrying

Article 134-56 - Wearing unauthorized insignia, decoration, badge, ribbon, device, or lapel button