Military Orders Violation

The Government typically prosecutes orders violations under UCMJ Article 92.  There are two categories of orders violations:  (1) general orders; and (2) other lawful orders.    


For general orders violations, the Government must prove:

a.  That a lawful general order was in effect;   

b.  That the accused had a duty to obey it; and

c.  That the accused violated or failed to obey the order.

As the title implies, these orders must be issued by general/flag rank officers or superior commanders such as service secretaries.  General orders violations are the most serious orders violations.  The maximum punishment for the violation of a general order can be a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 2 years. 


For other lawful orders violations, the Government must prove:

a.  That the accused was issued a certain lawful order;

b.  That the accused has knowledge of the order;

c.  That the accused had a duty to obey the order; and

d.  That the accused failed to obey the order.

 
The key difference between a general order and other lawful order violation is the “knowledge” requirement.  If an order is not a general order, the government must prove the service member actually knew of the order.  The potential punishment is also less for the failure to obey other lawful orders.  The maximum punishment is a bad conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 6 months.  For these reasons, the Government usually prefers to prosecute situations as general orders violations.  

 

A closely related legal theory of prosecution is “dereliction of duty.”  The Government can prosecute a service member for dereliction of duty when the Government can prove:

a.  That the accused had certain duties;

b.  That the accused knew of or reasonably should have known of the duties; and

c.  That the accused either willfully or negligently failed to perform the duties.

 

The Government will typically use dereliction of duty when no order existed related to the alleged conduct.  The punishment for willful dereliction can be a bad conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 6 months.  For negligent dereliction, the maximum punishment is forfeiture of 2/3 pay for 3 months, and confinement for 3 months.


UCMJ Articles 90 and 91 address the violations of orders or commands issued by superior commissioned officers, warrant officers, noncommissioned officers, or petty officers.


If you are facing prosecution for the violation of UCMJ Article 90, 91, or 92, you should seek advice from a military lawyer on how best to respond to the allegations.  Together, Jeffrey Meeks and Bruce White have been resolving such cases for nearly 50 years.  They are experienced military lawyers dedicated to ensuring you receive the best possible outcome for your case.  Call now for a consultation.


Manual for Courts-Martial (2012)