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Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct

Facing a court-martial, UCMJ action, Administrative Separation Board, or other Adverse Administrative Action for Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct? Call our experienced military defense lawyers at 1-800-921-8607 for a free consultation.

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Note: This law applies only to Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct offenses allegedly committed on or after 1 January 2019.

What is Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct?

Article 134 Ucmj Indecent Conduct Military Defense Lawyers

Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) serves as a catch-all provision to address various offenses not specifically covered elsewhere in the UCMJ. One such offense is indecent conduct, which refers to actions that are inappropriate, unprofessional, or violate societal norms of decency, particularly in a military setting. Manual for Courts-Martial, United States (2024 ed.)

The term “indecent conduct” is subjective and can encompass a broad range of actions, from improper behavior in public to inappropriate interactions with others.

Instances of indecent conduct may include but are not limited to, acts of public indecency, obscene gestures or language, and any behavior that may bring disrepute or dishonor to the military profession. Such conduct can adversely affect the good order and discipline within the armed forces and harm the military’s reputation. Given the wide scope of actions deemed indecent, the ambiguity in how this article is applied can result in varied legal interpretations and consequences.

Being accused of violating Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct is a serious matter. Convictions under this article can lead to severe repercussions, such as loss of rank

, pay, benefits, and even imprisonment. Therefore, service members must understand the gravity of these allegations and act swiftly to safeguard their rights and careers.

If you or someone you know is facing charges under Article 134 for indecent conduct, securing the services of a seasoned military defense lawyer is vital. An experienced attorney will navigate the complexities of military law, ensure that your rights are protected, and develop an effective defense strategy tailored to the specifics of your case. At Gonzalez & Waddington, we are committed to providing comprehensive legal representation and support for those involved in military criminal cases. Contact us today to discuss your case and take the first step toward resolving your legal challenges.

What are the Elements of Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct?

  1. That (state the time and place alleged), the accused engaged in certain conduct, to wit: (state the conduct alleged);
  2. That the conduct was indecent; and
  3. That, under the circumstances, the conduct of the accused was (to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces) (of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces) (to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces).

What are the Maximum Punishments for Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct?

Maximum Punishment for Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct committed between 1 Jan 2019 to 27 Dec 2023:

  • 5 Years of Confinement
  • Dishonorable Discharge, BCD, Dismissal
  • Total Forfeitures
  • Reduction to E-1
  • Collateral Consequences of a Federal Felony Conviction

Maximum Punishment for Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct committed after 27 Dec 2023

  • Under the Sentencing Parameters, Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct is a Category 2 Offense – Confinement from 1-36 months (1 month to 3 years), a DD, TF, and E-1
  • Dishonorable Discharge, BCD, Dismissal
  • Total Forfeitures
  • Reduction to E-1
  • Collateral Consequences of a Federal Felony Conviction
  • Note: The Military Judge MAY impose a period of confinement less than the jurisdictional maximum period of confinement upon finding specific facts that warrant such a sentence. Manual for Courts-Martial, United States (2024 ed.), Appendix 12B-C

Combined UCMJ Maximum Punishment Charts

Sample Specifications for Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct

In that Ly Col Gilbert Tableau, US Marine Corps, did at San Diego, California, on or about 1 April 2025, commit indecent conduct, to wit: masturbating in front of an open window in plain view of pedestrians in the street, and that said conduct was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces and was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.

Model Specifications for Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct

In that __________ (personal jurisdiction data), did (at/on board—location), on or about __________, commit indecent conduct, to wit: ______, and that said conduct was (to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces) (of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces) (to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces and was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces).

What are the Definitions for Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct?

Article 134 Ucmj Indecent Conduct Military Defense Attorneys“Indecent” under Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct means that form of immorality relating to sexual impurity which is grossly vulgar, obscene, and repugnant to common propriety and tends to excite sexual desire or deprave morals concerning sexual relations.

“Conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline” under Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct is conduct that causes a reasonably direct and obvious injury to good order and discipline.

“Service discrediting conduct” under Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct is conduct that tends to harm the reputation of the service or lower it in public esteem.

Indecent acts with another and Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct

Indecent conduct includes offenses previously proscribed by “Indecent acts with another,” except that the presence of another person is no longer required. The words “conduct” and “act” are synonymous for this offense. For child offenses, some indecent conduct may be included in the definition of lewd act and preempted by Article 120b(c).

Private Consensual Sexual Activity By or Between Adults and Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct

If the evidence raises the issue of private consensual sexual conduct by or between adults (e.g., sexual intercourse, sodomy, masturbation), the following instructions should be given.

This provision is not intended to regulate wholly private consensual sexual activity. In the absence of an aggravating circumstance, private consensual sexual activity (including (sexual intercourse) (masturbation) and (sodomy)) is not punishable as indecent conduct.

The government has asserted the existence of the following aggravating circumstances to prove the alleged conduct is indecent: (here the military judge may list any relevant aggravating circumstances). In deciding whether these asserted aggravating circumstances exist, you should consider all the evidence as you recall it.

Consensual Activity and Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct

Consensual sexual activity that is “open and notorious” is not private. Sexual activity may be open and notorious when the accused knows that someone else is present. This presence of someone else may include a person who is present and witnesses the sexual activity or is present and aware of the sexual activity through senses other than vision.

On the other hand, sexual activity that is not performed close to someone else and which passes unnoticed may not be considered open and notorious. Sexual activity may also be considered open and notorious when the act occurs under circumstances in which there is a substantial risk that the act(s) could be witnessed by someone else, even though no such discovery occurred.

Other instructions for Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct

Instruction 7-3, Circumstantial Evidence (Knowledge), is ordinarily applicable.

Legal References for Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct

  • US v. Izquierdo, 51 MJ 421 (CAAF 1999) (Open and notorious as an aggravating circumstance making consensual activity punishable under Article 134)
  • US v. Goings, 72 MJ 202 (2013) (Holding that “Lawrence” protections do not apply when the sexual activity is indecent because it is public rather than private conduct
  • One other person present at the consent of all three parties was determined to be public and, thus, not protected.) US v. Castellano, 72 MJ 217 (2013) (Whether “public” or “open and notorious” is a factual determination to be made by the trier of fact.)

Overview of Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct

Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) serves as a general article encompassing various offenses that are not specifically detailed in other parts of the UCMJ but are still considered detrimental to the good order and discipline of the armed forces or bring discredit upon the armed forces. One particular offense under this article is “indecent conduct.”

Definition and Scope of Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct

Indecent conduct under Article 134 UCMJ is defined as behavior that is grossly vulgar, obscene, and repugnant to common propriety and tends to excite lust and deprave morals concerning sexual relations. This broad definition means that a wide range of actions can fall under this category, providing military authorities the discretion to address various forms of misconduct that might not be explicitly covered by other specific articles.

General Examples of Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct (more examples are below):

Indecent conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following examples:

  1. Public Indecency: Engaging in sexual acts in public places where others can see.
  2. Indecent Exposure: Intentionally exposing one’s genitals in a public or semi-public setting.
  3. Lewd Acts in Military Housing: Performing sexual acts in front of minors in military housing.
  4. Distributing Pornographic Material: Sharing explicit materials without the consent of the recipients.
  5. Voyeurism: Secretly observing others in private situations without their consent.
  6. Unwelcome Sexual Advances: Persistently making inappropriate sexual advances towards another person.
  7. Sexual Harassment: Making sexually suggestive comments or gestures that create a hostile environment.
  8. Inappropriate Touching: Touching another person in a sexual manner without their consent.
  9. Creating Explicit Media: Recording sexual acts without the knowledge or consent of the participants.

Legal Implications of Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct

A conviction for indecent conduct under Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct can carry severe consequences, including punitive measures such as confinement, reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay, and a dishonorable discharge. The severity of the punishment often depends on the nature of the offense, the circumstances surrounding it, and the impact on the victim and the military community.

Judicial Considerations for Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct

When determining whether conduct is indecent, military courts consider the context and setting of the behavior, the ages and relationships of the involved parties, and the potential impact on the military environment. The key elements that prosecutors must establish are:

  1. The Act: The specific indecent conduct committed by the accused.
  2. The Circumstances: The context in which the act took place, including the setting and the presence of others.
  3. The Effect: The behavior’s potential to disrupt good order and discipline or to bring discredit upon the armed forces.

Defenses and Mitigating Factors for Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct

Defenses to charges of indecent conduct may include consent (in cases where it is legally relevant), lack of intent to commit an indecent act, and the absence of knowledge that the conduct was being observed by others. Mitigating factors such as the accused’s service record, character references, and the absence of a prior disciplinary record can also influence the severity of the sentence.

Selecting the Best Military Defense Lawyers for Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct

Article 134 UCMJ’s provision on indecent conduct is essential for maintaining the moral and ethical standards expected of military personnel. By encompassing a wide range of behaviors that can adversely affect military discipline and reputation, the armed forces uphold a high standard of conduct, reflecting the values and professionalism inherent in military service. The scope and discretionary nature of Article 134 Indecent Conduct allows it to address emerging and evolving forms of indecent behavior, thus preserving the integrity and discipline crucial to military effectiveness.

Examples of conduct that could constitute a violation of Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct:

  • Public Indecency: Engaging in sexual acts in a public place where others can see.
    • Explanation: This disrupts public order and morality.
  • Indecent Exposure: Intentionally exposing one’s genitals in a public setting.
    • Explanation: This is offensive and disrupts public decency.
  • Lewd Acts in Military Housing: Performing sexual acts in front of minors in military housing.
    • Explanation: This can corrupt minors and is considered morally reprehensible.
  • Distributing Pornographic Material: Sharing explicit materials without consent.
    • Explanation: This can cause harm and distress to recipients.
  • Voyeurism: Secretly watching someone undress or engage in sexual activity.
    • Explanation: This is a violation of privacy and decency.
  • Unwelcome Sexual Advances: Making persistent and inappropriate sexual advances.
    • Explanation: This creates a hostile environment and is offensive.
  • Sexual Harassment: Repeatedly making sexually suggestive comments or gestures.
    • Explanation: This behavior degrades and intimidates others.
  • Inappropriate Touching: Touching another person in a sexual manner without consent.
    • Explanation: This is an invasion of personal boundaries and decency.
  • Creating Explicit Media: Recording sexual acts without the knowledge or consent of the participants.
    • Explanation: This is a severe breach of trust and privacy.
  • Public Masturbation: Engaging in masturbation in a public or semi-public setting.
    • Explanation: This is offensive and disrupts public decency.
  • Sexual Acts with Animals: Engaging in sexual acts with animals.
    • Explanation: This is considered morally and legally reprehensible.
  • Sexual Acts in Uniform: Engaging in sexual acts while in military uniform.
    • Explanation: This disrespects the uniform and can harm the reputation of the military.
  • Sexual Conduct in Restricted Areas: Engaging in sexual acts in areas designated for military operations.
    • Explanation: This can interfere with military duties and operations.
  • Incestuous Behavior: Engaging in sexual acts with close family members.
    • Explanation: This is considered morally and legally unacceptable.
  • Soliciting Prostitution: Paying for sexual services.
    • Explanation: This is illegal and undermines moral standards.
  • Sexual Acts with Minors: Engaging in sexual acts with individuals under the age of consent.
    • Explanation: This is illegal and highly unethical.
  • Public Sexual Performances: Performing sexual acts for an audience in a public or semi-public setting.
    • Explanation: This disrupts public order and decency.
  • Indecent Communication: Sending sexually explicit messages or images without consent.
    • Explanation: This is harassment and an invasion of privacy.
  • Indecent Conduct with Subordinates: Engaging in sexual acts with subordinates.
    • Explanation: This abuses power and undermines discipline.
  • Sexual Acts in Government Vehicles: Engaging in sexual activities in government-owned vehicles.
    • Explanation: This misuses government property and is indecent.
  • Unlawful Voyeurism: Installing hidden cameras to record others without their knowledge.
    • Explanation: This is a severe invasion of privacy and decency.
  • Engaging in Sexual Acts in Restricted Zones: Performing sexual activities in restricted or sensitive military zones.
    • Explanation: This can jeopardize security and military operations.
  • Distribution of Revenge Porn: Sharing intimate images or videos without consent.
    • Explanation: This is malicious and causes significant harm.
  • Public Simulated Sex Acts: Performing simulated sex acts in public.
    • Explanation: This disrupts public decency and order.
  • Use of Military Resources for Indecent Purposes: Using military equipment or facilities for sexual activities.
    • Explanation: This is a misuse of government resources and indecent conduct.

These examples illustrate various forms of indecent conduct under Article 134 UCMJ Indecent Conduct, highlighting behaviors that undermine military discipline, public order, and moral standards.

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