Article 133 Conduct Unbecoming DEFENDING MILITARY MEMBERS WORLDWIDE Contact Us!


Article 133 – Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman – is an offense with deep roots in military history and the original Articles of War.

The elements of the offense are:

  • That the accused did or omitted to do certain acts; and,
  • Under the circumstances, the acts or omitted acts constituted conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

The word gentleman is gender neutral in the eyes of the law.

Article 133 was always intended to be a “catch-all” to create liability for actions that dishonor or disgrace officers. Because they are often vague – one of the first places to look in defending an Article 133 charge is whether the service member was on proper notice for due process purposes.

The focus of Article 133, UCMJ, a purely military offense, is the effect of the accused’s conduct on his [or her] status as an officer.” Amazaki, 67 M.J. at 670 (citing the United States v. Conliffe, 67 M.J. 127, 132 (C.A.A.F. 2009)), review denied, (C.A.A.F. 2009).

“The gravamen of Article 133, UCMJ, is ‘[a]n officer’s conduct that disgraces him personally or brings dishonor to the military profession or affects his fitness to command the obedience of his subordinates so as to successfully complete the military mission.’” Id. (quoting United States v. Forney, 67 M.J. 271, 275 (C.A.A.F. 2009)) (alteration in original).

Before an officer can be convicted of an offense under Article 133, due process requires “fair notice” that the conduct “is forbidden and subject to criminal sanction.” United States v. Vaughan, 58 M.J. 29, 31 (C.A.A.F. 2003) (citing the United States v. Bivins, 49 M.J. 328, 330 (C.A.A.F. 1998)). For notice, the question is whether a “reasonable military officer would have no doubt that the activities charged constituted conduct unbecoming an officer.” United States v. Frazier, 34 M.J. 194, 198 (C.M.A. 1994) (footnote omitted) (citing Parker, 417 U.S. at 757). See also Amazaki, 67 M.J. at 670 (citing Frazier for same proposition). Notice that conduct is unbecoming may be shown by custom, regulation, or otherwise. United States v. Guaglione, 27 M.J. 268, 272 (C.M.A. 1988) (citation omitted).

The law recognizes that there are certain moral attributes necessary to lead troops.

As a matter of philosophy, Mr. Conway is aggressive in Article 133 cases about challenging the allegations based on failure to state an offense and the concept of void for vagueness. We recently (January 2016 ruling) had an Article 133 charge dismissed on those grounds. The officer had been accused of calling his ex-wife a “stupid b**ch.” The judge ruled that there was not proper notice that using those words would be a crime under Article 133.

The bottom line is that Article 133 charges need to be challenged aggressively because military prosecutors tend to be very liberal in charging Article 133 offenses that simply do not rise to the level of criminal conduct.

Why Hire Daniel Conway & Associates?

  • Frequent Coverage on High-Profile Media Networks
  • Practicing Worldwide With Years of Combined Legal Experience
  • Fast Responses & Free Initial Consultations Available 24 Hours
  • Court-Martial Experience in Every Service & Every Crime
  • Daniel  Conway Photo
    Daniel Conway Partner

    For the better part of the last decade, Mr. Conway has become a nationally recognized resource on military justice. Daniel Conway is a former Marine staff sergeant and captain. He is a proud graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and University of New Hampshire School of Law. Mr. Conway is recently a former President of the New Hampshire Bar Association Military Law Section and a current member of the DC Bar. Mr. Conway has also written a book on Military Crimes and Defenses that is near publication with a major ...

    Read More
  • Brian  Pristera Photo
    Brian Pristera Attorney

    A Richmond, Virginia native, Mr. Pristera graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. After spending some time as a DuPont engineer, specifically working on Kevlar manufacturing and ballistics applications, Mr. Pristera attended law school at the University of New Hampshire. On July 4, 2010, Mr. Pristera was commissioned in the U.S. Army in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Mr. Pristera spent almost six years on active duty. He spent just over three of those years in criminal defense, ...

    Read More
  • Joseph  Galli Photo
    Joseph Galli Attorney

    Originally from Portland, Maine, Mr. Galli attended Elmira College in New York on a four-year Army ROTC Scholarship. At Elmira, he double majored in Business Administration and Public Affairs. Mr. Galli graduated from Elmira College in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science degree and was Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. Mr. Galli began his study of the law in 2009 at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. There, he focused on litigation and honed his advocacy skills as a member of the Advanced Trial ...

    Read More
  • “Dont trust the military to have your back when you are in need. These guys are the best.”

    - Ballejos
  • ““The most professional lawyers I’ve ever met! They treated me like family from day one!””

    - M.B.
  • “Appeal through BCNR”

    - Mitchell

Contact Daniel Conway & Associates

Request a Free Initial Consultation

  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.
  • By submitting, you agree to be contacted about your request & other information using automated technology. Message frequency varies. Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to cancel. Acceptable Use Policy