Lesser-known UCMJ offenses

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Gregory Friedland
  • 28th Bomb Wing Staff Judge Advocate
Some Airmen destroy promising careers, and it's not always because they are caught stealing, using drugs or misusing their government computer.

Having served as a prosecutor, defense attorney and military judge, I've seen people lose their careers for many reasons: from voyeurism to disloyal statements, to graft and sedition, and even wrongful cohabitation.

In one particular case, an Airman who was separated -- not divorced -- from his wife moved into base housing with another woman. Because he was still married, he had applied for and was offered base housing. He and his girlfriend lived together for four months, and even his neighbors thought they were husband and wife.

Later, he was convicted of wrongful cohabitation, among other things, and sentenced to a bad-conduct discharge, confinement for one year, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and reduced to the grade of E-1.

Wrongful cohabitation occurs when an Airman and another person openly and publicly live together as husband and wife, but they're not. It can happen in base housing or in the civilian community.

In another case, an Airman was convicted of looting. While standing guard at a warehouse in Panama during Operation Just Cause, he stole a camera and four watches.

Looting differs from larceny in that the property generally belongs to the enemy; however, there are exceptions. He was sentenced to a bad-conduct discharge, confinement for six months, forfeiture of $400 pay per month for six months and reduction to the grade of E-1.

Following is a list of several Uniform Code of Military Justice offenses people may not have encountered:

-- Fleeing the scene of an accident: both the driver and the senior ranking passenger can be charged with this offense;

-- Drunk and disorderly: you can violate this provision by being drunk, disorderly or both;

-- Misprision of a serious offense: concealing a serious offense committed by another;

-- Obstructing justice: intimidating a witness or saying essentially, "Don't tell them it was me.";

-- Soliciting another to commit an offense;

-- Disloyal statements: watch what you post on social media websites;

-- Child endangerment or reckless endangerment: wrongfully subjecting someone to a reasonable probability of harm;

-- False or unauthorized pass offenses: this offense also applies to altering your identification card, loaning your ID to someone or having an unauthorized ID card;

-- Stalking: this applies to both the victim of the stalking and their immediate family;

-- Voyeurism: this is now found under Article 120 as "indecent conduct;"

-- Graft: compensation for services performed in an official manner when no compensation is due; and

-- Sedition: think "mutiny" but in the overthrow of civil authority sense versus military authority.

There are many more offenses that you probably haven't heard about. Although the UCMJ contains some laws you may not have heard of, ignorance of the law is no excuse.