Uniform Code of Military Justice Facts: 10 Things You Should Know

Today, I want to educate you about the Uniform Code of Military Justice, so you have a better understanding about what it is and how it works.  I’ll cover 10 things you should know about the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  Please keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer or JAG Officer, so if you have a specific question, contact your local JAG Office.

# 1 The UCMJ was passed by Congress on May 5, 1950, signed into law by President Truman and become effective on May 31, 1951.

# 2 The UCMJ allows personal jurisdiction over the Air Force, Coast Guard (in some cases), Marines, Navy, NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps (in some cases), and Public Health Commissioned Corps (in some cases).

# 3 Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to govern and make rules over the land and naval forces.

# 4 The UCMJ traces its roots back to 1775 with the 69 Articles of War.

# 5 Soldiers and Airmen of the National Guard are NOT subject to the UCMJ unless they are activated in a federal capacity, or at annual training.

# 6 The UCMJ gives commanders the ability to issue non-judicial punishment in order to maintain good order and discipline in their units (Article 15, subchapter 3).

# 7 The most current edition of the UCMJ is dated 2012.

# 8 Some of the punitive articles include:

  • 81 – Conspiracy
  • 85 – Desertion
  • 86 – Absent without Leave
  • 89- Disrespect to superior commissioned officer
  • 92 – Failure to obey order
  • 104 – Aiding the enemy
  • 107 – False official statements
  • 112 – Drunk on duty

# 9 Article 134 is the “catch all” article which authorizes the prosecution of offenses not specifically detailed by any other article: 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.  Some examples include adultery, arson, burglary, sodomy, and drunkenness.

# 10 Here are the subchapters of the UCMJ:

  • I General Provisions
  • II Apprehension and Restraint
  • III Non-Judicial Punishment
  • IV Court-Martial Jurisdiction
  • V Composition of Courts-Martial
  • VI Pre-Trial Procedures
  • VII Trial Procedures
  • VIII Sentences
  • IX Post Trial Procedures and Review of Court Martial
  • X Punitive Articles
  • XI Miscellaneous Provisions
  • XII Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that the Uniform Code of Military Justice is the military law for service members.  Whether you are a Soldier, commander or small unit leader you should know your rights (and your Soldiers’ rights) so you can always do the right thing and enforce the standards.  I suggest you get a copy of the UCMJ and read it.  And if you ever have a specific question, contact your local JAG Office.

What are your thoughts?  What do you like and dislike about the Uniform Code of Military Justice?  Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.  I look forward to hearing from you.


  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniform_Code_of_Military_Justice
chuck holmes

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

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8 thoughts on “Uniform Code of Military Justice Facts: 10 Things You Should Know”

  1. This was a very interesting post Chuck. One thing I was surprised by was the fact that members of the National Guard are not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I know they are if activated to go overseas, but what justice system are they under normally? Are they just under State rules and justice systems? I would think that they should be under the same system as full time service members. What do you think?

      1. Greg Boudonck

        Wow, I would have to say that I completely disagree with this aspect. This can cause confusion as many State laws are different depending on where you are. I know that here in Puerto Rico, the laws are quite differerent than many States, and if someone transfers, they have a whole new set of laws they need to abide by.

        My opinion is: there should be a set of laws governing National Guard and Reserves that is the same no matter the State or territory they reside in.

        1. A great example that I would like to point out here is, say in the State of Colorado, you have a soldier that shows up at National Guard weekend and you can tell they are stoned out of there mind. What would be the protocol in a situation such as that since marijuana is now legal in Colorado?

          It just seems to me that there should be a common laws for all National Guard and Reserve soldiers and not under State laws.

          1. Right, but alcohol is legal in all states, and anyone who presented themselves for duty drunk as a skunk would definitely get in trouble. So coming to weekend training under the influence of marijuana would have problems as well. That individual would present a danger to themselves and others, and should not be allowed any heavy equipment or allowed to make any decisions.

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