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Changes in the UCMJ could affect your military career

As a member of the United States Armed Forces, you are subject to the Uniform Military Code of Justice. On Jan. 1, the UCMJ received its first significant reforms in many years. The changes added some new criminal acts, lowered the blood alcohol level on military bases and expanded victims' rights.

You may want to better understand these changes in order to avoid inadvertently violating one of the UCMJ's articles. Anytime you face an accusation of a violation, it puts your career in jeopardy.

New articles

Before the reforms, many crimes fell under the "General Article," otherwise known as Article 134. Those offenses are now contained in their own articles. These are not new offenses, simply new article numbers now that they are under their own. However, there are some new crimes added that you may need to know:

  • Under the UCMJ, you may now face criminal charges for retaliating against someone who reports or witnesses an abuse of authority, mismanagement, gross waste or a crime.
  • You could face disciplinary action for engaging in sexual relations with recruits or trainees if you are in a training or recruiting role. Consent is not a defense.
  • The reforms added cyberstalking and stalking as criminal offenses. These crimes also now have their own articles. 
  • The changes removed debit or credit card fraud from the larceny article to a separate article.

Some of the new articles are not technically additions to the UCMJ. They simply fall under their own articles now. Even so, this represents a change you need to know about.

Changes to articles

Some changes affected current articles as well. The two most notable are as follows:

  • The adultery article changed names to the extramarital sexual conduct article. If you legally separated from your spouse by a court order, it constitutes a defense to this charge.
  • The maximum legal blood alcohol limit on military bases dropped from 0.10 to 0.08.

In most cases, commanders on military bases already followed the lower BAC limit, but it is still something you may want to know.

Information on other changes

Other changes were also made to the UCMJ that you may need to know about, especially if you are facing charges. It would be worthwhile to discuss your case, your rights and any changes to the UCMJ that could affect your proceedings with a Georgia attorney who has experience in military law.

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Tyler Lee Randolph, P.C.

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