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Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide

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

What is Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide?

Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide military defense lawyersArticle 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide addresses the unlawful killing of a person due to negligent actions or omissions by a service member. It emphasizes the importance of adhering to safety protocols and exercising due care in all activities to prevent tragic outcomes. The military justice system treats such cases with the utmost seriousness, reflecting the critical need for maintaining discipline, responsibility, and accountability within the armed forces.

What are the Elements of Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide?

  1. That (state the name or description of the alleged victim) is dead;
  2. That (his) (her) death resulted from the (act) (failure to act) of the accused, to wit: (state the act or failure to act alleged), (state the time and place alleged);
  3. That the killing by the accused was unlawful;
  4. That the (act) (failure to act) of the accused which caused the death amounted to simple negligence; and
  5. 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 Negligent Homicide?

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

  • 3 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 Negligent Homicide committed after 27 Dec 2023

  • Under the Sentencing Parameters, Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide is a Category 2 Offense – Confinement from 1-36 months (1 month to 3 years)
  • 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 Negligent Homicide

In that SGT Billy Bigbags, US Army, did, at Fort Eisenhower, Georgia, on or about 12 July 2025, unlawfully kill PFC Kesha Todds, by driving a motor vehicle against the said PFC Kesha Todds in a negligent manner, 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 Negligent Homicide

In that __________ (personal jurisdiction data), did, (at/on board—location), on or about __________, unlawfully kill __________, (by negligently __________ the said __________ (in) (on) the __________ with a __________) (by driving a (motor vehicle) (__________) against the said __________ in a negligent manner) (__________), 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 Negligent Homicide?

Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide military lawyersUnder Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide, “Conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline” is conduct that causes a reasonably direct and obvious injury to good order and discipline.)

Under Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide, “Service discrediting conduct” is conduct that tends to harm the reputation of the service or lower it in public esteem.)

Under Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide, the killing of a human being is unlawful when done without legal justification or excuse. An intent to kill or injure is not required.

Under Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide, “Simple negligence” is the absence of due care, that is, (an act) (failure to act) by a person who is under a duty to use due care which exhibits a lack of that degree of care for the safety of others which a reasonably careful person would have used under the same or similar circumstances.

Proximate cause in Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide Cases

In an appropriate case, the following instructions on proximate cause should be given:

The (act) (failure to act) alleged must not only amount to simple negligence, but it must also be a proximate cause of the death. This means that the death of (state the name of the alleged victim) must have been the natural and probable result of the accused’s negligent (act) (failure to act).

In determining this issue, consider all relevant facts and circumstances (including, but not limited to, (here, the military judge may specify significant evidentiary factors bearing on the issue and indicate the respective contentions of counsel for both sides).)

Two or More Causes and Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide

Two or more persons involved in injury to the victim. Give the following instructions on where two or more persons caused the injury to the deceased.

It is possible for the conduct of two or more persons to contribute, each as a proximate or direct cause, to the death of another. Suppose the accused’s conduct was a proximate or direct cause of the victim’s death. In that case, the accused will not be relieved of criminal responsibility just because some other person’s conduct was also a proximate or direct cause of the death.

Burdens of Proof and Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide

The accused will, however, be relieved of criminal responsibility for the death of the victim if the death was the result of some unforeseeable, independent, intervening cause that did not involve the accused. If the victim died only because of the independent, intervening cause, the (act) (failure to act) of the accused was not the proximate cause of the death, and the accused cannot be found guilty of negligent homicide.

In Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide cases, the burden is on the prosecution to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that (there was no independent, intervening cause) (and) (that the accused’s negligence was a proximate cause of the death of the victim).

Contributory negligence of victim and Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide

In an appropriate Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide case, the following instructions relating to contributory negligence of the deceased should be given:

There is evidence in this case raising the issue of whether the deceased failed to use reasonable care and caution for his/her own safety. Suppose the accused’s negligence was a proximate cause of the death. In that case, the accused is not relieved of criminal responsibility just because the negligence of the deceased may have contributed to his/her death.

The conduct of the deceased is, however, important on the issue of whether the accused’s negligence, if any, was a proximate cause of the death. Accordingly, a certain (act) (failure to act) may be a proximate cause of death even if it is not the only cause, as long as it is a direct or contributing cause and plays an important role in causing the death.

An act (A failure to act) is not the proximate cause of the death if some other force independent of the accused’s (act) (failure to act) intervened as a cause of death.

Legal References for Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide Cases

  • US v. Kick, 7 MJ 82 (CMA 1979)
  • US v. Martinez, 42 MJ 327 (CAAF 1995).

Overview of Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide

Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) encompasses a range of offenses that negatively impact good order and discipline or discredit the armed forces. One specific offense under this article is negligent homicide. Negligent homicide under Article 134 UCMJ involves the unlawful killing of a human being through a negligent act or omission by a service member.

The Basics of Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide

Negligence under Article 134 UCMJ: homicide must be considered negligent if it is proven that the service member acted with a lack of due care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised under similar circumstances. This means the accused failed to recognize a substantial and unjustifiable risk that their actions or inactions would result in the death of another person.

Unlawful Killing: The act must result in the unlawful killing of another human being. Unlike murder, which requires intent or malice aforethought, negligent homicide involves unintentional killing resulting from careless behavior.

Proximate Cause: There must be a direct causal link between the negligent act or omission of the accused and the death of the victim. The death must be a foreseeable consequence of the accused’s negligent conduct.

Examples of Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide (below is a more detailed list)

  1. Motor Vehicle Accidents: A service member driving recklessly or under the influence of alcohol, resulting in a fatal accident.
  2. Training Mishaps: Failing to follow safety protocols during military training exercises leads to fatality.
  3. Medical Negligence: A military healthcare provider neglecting essential medical procedures or failing to provide necessary care, resulting in a patient’s death.
  4. Improper Handling of Weapons: Carelessly handling or discharging a weapon, causing the death of another service member or civilian.
  5. Negligent Supervision: A leader fails to properly supervise subordinates, resulting in actions that lead to a fatal incident.

Legal Process and Consequences of Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide

Investigation of Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide

When a negligent homicide is suspected, a thorough investigation is conducted by military law enforcement agencies, such as the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) or Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID). This involves gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and compiling a comprehensive report on the incident.

Charges and Court-Martial for Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide

If sufficient evidence is found, the accused may be charged with negligent homicide under Article 134 UCMJ and referred to a court-martial. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused’s negligent actions directly caused the death.

Potential Penalties for Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide

Conviction of negligent homicide can result in severe penalties, including confinement, reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay, and a dishonorable or bad-conduct discharge. The exact punishment depends on the circumstances of the case and the degree of negligence involved.

Why Hire Civilian Defense Lawyers for Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide

Due to the serious nature of negligent homicide charges, the accused must have experienced legal representation. Military defense attorneys can provide essential guidance, help build a strong defense, and protect the accused’s rights throughout the legal process.

Understanding Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide

Military members are held to unique standards and regulations under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). One such regulation is Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide, which covers a range of offenses, including negligent homicide. If you or a loved one faces allegations under this article, it’s crucial to understand the charge and the potential consequences.

What is Negligent Homicide under Article 134 UCMJ?

Negligent homicide under Article 134 involves causing the death of another person through negligence rather than through intentional or reckless actions. In the military context, this could incorporate scenarios such as mishandling a weapon, disregarding safety protocols, or driving under the influence, where these actions result in a fatality.

Legal Ramifications of Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide

A conviction for negligent homicide under Article 134 can carry severe penalties, including imprisonment, dishonorable discharge, and forfeiture of pay and allowances. The seriousness of the charge underscores the importance of understanding one’s rights and securing competent legal representation.

The Importance of a Military Defense Lawyer in Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide Cases

Given the complexities of military law and the high stakes of a negligent homicide charge, having a seasoned military defense attorney is imperative. An experienced attorney can provide critical guidance, develop a robust defense strategy, and ensure the service member’s rights are upheld throughout the judicial process. Whether scrutinizing the evidence, negotiating with prosecutors, or representing the accused in court, professional legal assistance can significantly affect the case outcome.

If you find yourself or a loved one implicated in a negligent homicide case under Article 134 UCMJ, do not face it alone. The team at Gonzalez & Waddington is committed to defending the men and women in uniform and ensuring they receive fair treatment under the law. Contact us today to discuss your case and explore your legal options.

What are Examples of Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide?

  1. Reckless Driving: A service member drives at excessive speeds through a residential area and loses control of the vehicle, hitting and killing a pedestrian. The reckless disregard for traffic laws and safety protocols constitutes negligent homicide.
  2. DUI Incident: A service member operates a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, resulting in a fatal collision with another car. The impaired judgment and violation of DUI regulations lead to a charge of negligent homicide.
  3. Training Exercise Mishap: During a live-fire training exercise, a service member neglects to follow established safety protocols, leading to a fatal shooting of a fellow soldier. The failure to adhere to safety measures results in negligent homicide.
  4. Medical Negligence: A military healthcare provider fails to diagnose a life-threatening condition despite clear symptoms, resulting in the patient’s death. The neglect of professional medical standards and failure to act appropriately constitutes negligent homicide.
  5. Improper Weapon Handling: A service member mishandles a loaded firearm, causing it to discharge and kill another person. The careless handling of a weapon, ignoring basic safety practices, leads to a negligent homicide charge.
  6. Negligent Supervision: A commanding officer fails to properly supervise a hazardous training activity, resulting in a fatal accident. The lack of adequate oversight and precautionary measures results in a charge of negligent homicide.
  7. Inadequate Equipment Maintenance: A service member responsible for maintaining military vehicles fails to perform necessary inspections, leading to a mechanical failure and fatal crash. The neglect of maintenance duties constitutes negligent homicide.
  8. Fire Safety Neglect: A service member ignores fire safety protocols while handling flammable materials, resulting in a fire that causes a fatality. The disregard for established safety procedures leads to a negligent homicide charge.
  9. Failure to Secure Hazardous Materials: Hazardous chemicals are not properly stored or secured, leading to accidental exposure and the death of a fellow service member. The failure to follow safety regulations regarding hazardous materials results in negligent homicide.
  10. Swimming Pool Safety Violation: A service member neglects to ensure that a swimming pool area is properly supervised, leading to a drowning incident. The lack of necessary precautions and supervision constitutes negligent homicide.
  11. Aviation Accident: A pilot disregards flight safety protocols, resulting in a crash that kills a passenger or crew member. The negligent operation of the aircraft leads to a charge of negligent homicide.
  12. Mismanagement of Live Ammunition: Live ammunition is improperly stored or handled, leading to an accidental explosion that results in a fatality. The careless management of dangerous materials results in negligent homicide.
  13. Negligent Roadblock Setup: A service member sets up a roadblock without proper warning signs, causing a fatal traffic accident. The failure to follow proper procedures in setting up the roadblock leads to a negligent homicide charge.
  14. Lack of Emergency Response: A commanding officer delays the response to a medical emergency, resulting in the death of the affected individual. The failure to act promptly and responsibly constitutes negligent homicide.
  15. Improper Chemical Disposal: Toxic chemicals are disposed of in an unsafe manner, leading to contamination and the death of a fellow service member. The negligent handling of chemical disposal results in a charge of negligent homicide.
  16. Failure to Secure Perimeter: A service member neglects to secure the perimeter of a dangerous area, allowing unauthorized entry that results in a fatal accident. The lack of proper security measures leads to a negligent homicide charge.
  17. Poor Risk Assessment: During a high-risk operation, a service member fails to conduct a proper risk assessment, resulting in a fatality. The negligence in evaluating and mitigating risks constitutes negligent homicide.
  18. Negligent Boat Operation: A service member operates a military boat recklessly, causing it to capsize and leading to a drowning death. The careless handling of the boat results in a charge of negligent homicide.
  19. Failure to Warn of Known Dangers: A service member is aware of a hazardous condition but fails to warn others, resulting in a fatal incident. The neglect to communicate known dangers leads to a negligent homicide charge.
  20. Inadequate Medical Training: A service member tasked with providing medical care lacks adequate training and administers improper treatment, resulting in the patient’s death. The failure to ensure proper medical training and care constitutes negligent homicide.

These examples illustrate various scenarios in which a service member’s negligence can lead to fatal consequences, resulting in charges under Article 134 UCMJ Negligent Homicide. Each situation highlights the importance of adhering to safety protocols and exercising due care in all military activities.

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