Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)

Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) – http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/10/stApIIch47.html

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What are some general sentencing guidelines under the UCMJ?
  • What state officials are covered under the “Contempt Towards Officials” provision of the UCMJ?
  • How is sodomy defined under the UCMJ?
  • What is the UCMJ definition of malingering?


This might come as a surprise, but the UCMJ is a creature of Congress. It’s not something that the military or the President dreamed up on their own. Various parts have been passed by Congress at different times and then codified into Title 10, Chapter 47 of the United States Code.

Much of the procedural and investigations of the UCMJ have been incorporated in the joint Manual for Courts-Martial discussed elsewhere. Where I think you should focus on here is Subchapter X – Punitive Articles, which lists the crimes that military members can face courts-martial for. Many of these crimes overlap with civilian crimes. Below is a very partial list of what I believe to be military specific crimes to put your military characters in jeopardy. See the UCMJ for other crimes to charge your character with.

  • § 882. Art. 82. Solicitation (to desert or aid enemy)
  • § 883. Art. 83. Fraudulent enlistment, appointment, or separation
  • § 888. Art. 88. Contempt toward officials
  • § 889. Art. 89. Disrespect toward superior commissioned officer
  • § 890. Art. 90. Assaulting or willfully disobeying superior commissioned officer
  • § 896. Art. 96. Releasing prisoner without proper authority
  • § 900. Art. 100. Subordinate compelling surrender
  • § 901. Art. 101. Improper use of countersign
  • § 914. Art. 114. Dueling
  • § 915. Art. 115. Malingering
  • § 917. Art. 117. Provoking speeches or gestures
  • § 925. Art. 125. Sodomy
  • § 933. Art. 133. Conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman
  • § 934. Art. 134. General article

The “General Article” is interesting because it is such a catchall:

Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special, or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court.

Basically, if you are a servicemember and you embarrass the military in an unusual way, you can be courtmartialed for it. This article may be the reason we don’t see a regular “Women of the Armed Forces” pictorial in Playboy.

Here I’ve cited the Cornell University copy of the United States Code. If you wish for something a little more authoritative, try this link from the Government Printing Office Federal Digital System: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/browse/collectionUScode.action?collectionCode=USCODE . From there you can browse to Title 10, Chapter 47 through a series of mouse clicks.


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