Article 133 UCMJ: A Brief Overview

Today, we are going to take a look at Article 133 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Many people do not understand this article and hopefully none of you have ever faced an Article 133.

What An Article 133 Lists As

If you hear the term, Conduct Unbecoming An Officer And A Gentleman, it refers to an Article 133. This refers to any commissioned officer, cadet or midshipmen.

Where The Term Conduct Unbecoming An Officer And A Gentleman Originated From

It started in the 18th century in the British Armed Forces. Up until 1860, it was not a specific offense in the Articles of War. But it was put into British code as Article 24 which stated: Every Officer subject to this Act who shall be guilty of Cruelty, or of any scandalous or fraudulent Conduct, shall be dismissed with Disgrace from Her Majesty’s Service; and every Officer subject to this Act who shall be guilty of any other Conduct unbecoming the Character of an Officer shall be dismissed, with or without Disgrace, from Her Majesty’s Service.

Does This Article Only Go For Male Officers?

The gentleman part may portray this, but this goes for both sexes.

What Are The Elements For Having An Article 133?

There are 2 simple elements:

  1. That the accused did or omitted to do the acts; and
  2. That these acts or omissions constituted conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

The Duty Of An Officer And A Gentleman

As I said, gentleman defined in this case is an officer of any gender. The primary items the “gentleman” must avoid are:

  • dishonest acts
  • acts of cruelty
  • acts or displays of indecency
  • injustice
  • lawlessness
  • indecorum
  • and unfair dealing

Often, when an officer faces an Article 133, they must also face one or more other Articles.

If Convicted Of An Article 133

The individual will face punishment under court-martial direction.

Possible punishments include:

  • Face a prison sentence that extends to a year or longer depending on the nature of the unbecoming conduct.
  • Dismissed from the military, the officer equivalent to a dishonorable discharge, putting an end to the person’s military career and benefits.
  • All pay and allowances may be forfeited.

Offenses Known To Violate Article 133

In many ways, nearly any charge could fall into the area of an Article 133. But these are ones that have been tried and proven:

  • Child pornography
  • Public intoxication
  • Drugs
  • Certain sex acts
  • Sexual harassment
  • Homosexual conduct
  • Lying
  • Financial impropriety
  • Obstruction of justice
  • Child abuse

Final Thoughts

There are many who question if Article 133 needs to be more clearly defined.

Just to show one example:

Accused released documents about detainees at Guantanamo Naval Base. We all know what transpired from the release of those documents, but the accused was still given an Article 133.

Now I ask you, should he/she be court-martialed?

It is a difficult position… You know it is wrong and no one is doing anything… Do you break the law?

I hope this post taught you a few things. I also hope none of you reading ever fall under an Article 133.

Please post your comments and questions below. Thank you.

Suggested Reading
  1. Article 123: Forgery
  2. Article 126
  3. Army Article 15
  4. Article 129 Overview
  5. Military Courts Martial
Sincerely,
chuck holmes







Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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