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UCMJ Disrespect Questions

UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) disrespect falls under Article 89, which is disrespect toward a superior military officer. Charges for this form of disrespect can be given to anyone who shows disrespect to a superior officer and the officer doesn't have to be present to be disrespected. Many people want to learn about military disrespect and ask the Military Experts. The Experts can answer any military disrespect related questions that you may have. Take a look at five of the top UCMJ disrespect questions answered by the Experts.

Does an officer need to identify himself when approaching while in civilian clothing?

Below are the elements of the UCMJ:
Article 89; Disrespect toward a superior commissioned officer
a. Text of statute. Any person subject to this chapter who behaves with disrespect toward his superior commissioned officer shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
b. Elements.
(1) That the accused did or omitted certain acts or used certain language to or concerning a certain commissioned officer;
(2)That such behavior or language was directed toward that officer;
(3) That the officer toward whom the acts, omissions, or words were directed was the superior commissioned officer of the accused;
(4)That the accused then knew that the commissioned officer toward whom the acts, omissions, or word directed were the accused commissioned officer; and
(5) That, under the circumstances, the behavior or language was disrespectful to that superior commissioned officer.

Based off of these elements, it wouldn't matter if the officer was in uniform or not. However, it will matter if you knew that the person in civilian clothing was an officer and you still chose to disrespect them. If you knew the person was an officer, you may receive charges, if you didn't know; you would probably not receive a conviction at the court martial.

Can a person refuse mast if they think that they have a defense to a charge of disrespect?

Before you refuse Mast, you should speak with a Judge Advocate General (JAG) and let them review your defense. Generally, the Reserves do not usually go to the extreme of a court martial, however, it can happen. The military can be very strict about the usage of speech and how it can be considered disrespectful. A commissioned officer doesn't have to be present for you to disrespect them. Your punishment is limited at Mast and you would not be confined if found guilty. You can also appeal Mast if things don't turn in your favor.

Even though Mast isn't considered a conviction, the fact that you go to Mast may later affect your ability to gain security clearance or even rejoining the military.

If a Sergeant First Class (SFC) does not say at ease or indicate in any way that those would feel disrespected; can they recommend an AR 15 for disrespect?

There is nothing mentioned in military law that says a higher ranking Non-commissioned Officer (NCO) is required to say "at ease" before they would be allowed to file a charge for disrespect. The SFC can request that you be charged for disrespect and you can use your defense. However, the commander has the final say and will be based on who he/she believes.

Can a Marine Lt. be brought before a court martial for making negative comments about a higher officer to another Lt. while having drinks in a bar?

A commanding officer can certainly convene a court. Due to Art 89, it isn't required by law for the commissioned office to be present during an act of disrespect, so it is possible that you may have committed a crime. However, if you were only joking, and no disrespect was meant, and was unable to correctly understand your statement due to being drunk, you could possibly use this as a defense.

Should a soldier refuse an Art 15 if they are accused of disrespecting a commissioned officer? The commissioned officer was not offended, and chose not to place charges but another officer is pushing the charges.

In this situation, based on the facts offered, if the commissioned officer was not offended and refused to place charges, you should refuse the Art 15. If in fact, the commissioned officer chose not to place charges; it's unlikely that this would ever result in a conviction. Once you refuse the Art 15, more than likely the prosecutor will choose not to bring charges.

Military disrespect can bring about many legal issues for anyone who is charged. If you are in a situation that requires military insight, you can ask a Military Expert . The Experts answer many questions regarding military disrespect and can offer a solution to your individual situation in an efficient and knowledgeable manner.
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