Article 134- Check, Worthless, Making or Uttering- by Dishonorably Failing
to Maintain Funds
Article 134 covers a number of offenses. One of them is check, worthless,
making or uttering- by dishonorably failing to maintain funds. The main
text of Article 134 is common to all the offenses. It says that any neglect
or disorder which prejudice the discipline or good order in the armed
forces or any conduct that brings discredit to the armed forces, shall
be dealt with through a court martial and accordingly punished.
Check bouncing cases have become a serious problem nationwide. The armed
forces have also had their share of these cases. Check bouncing is strictly
dealt with in the U.S armed forces and heavy punishments are levied on
personnel who are held guilty of such offenses. Here are the elements
under Article 134- dishonorable failure to maintain funds.
Elements of Article 134 to show that this offense occurred
- The defendant made and uttered a check.
- He made and uttered the check to purchase an article, to pay a debt or
for a given purpose.
- The defendant subsequently did not maintain or place sufficient funds in
his account or did not make arrangements for credit with his bank, to
pay the amount he had written, in full when the check was presented for payment.
- His failure to ensure the payment was dishonorable
- In the circumstances, the accused's conduct prejudiced the discipline
and good order expected from personnel in the armed forces or the nature
of it, has brought discredit to the armed forces.
The term 'uttering' means to display or exhibit a check to another
person; attempting to cash the check or put it into circulation and while
doing so, stating or implying (directly or indirectly) that the check
Maximum punishment for violation of the provisions of this section
The enlisted member can be punished with a bad conduct discharge, forfeiture
of allowances and pay and six months of confinement.
Different from an offense under Article 123a
Article 123a concerns making, drawing, or uttering a check, draft, or order
without sufficient funds. Offenses under article 134 are different from
those under Article 123a, in that the enlisted member had no intention
to deceive or defraud the person or organization to whom the check was
made out, drawn, uttered, or delivered and it is not necessary that the
accused knew at the time that his account did not or would not hold sufficient
funds to make the payment.
In Article 123a, the accused intends to defraud the receiver at the time
he makes, draws, or utters the draft, order or check.
In this case, the offense is the accused's conduct after he utters
the check. An enlisted member cannot be prosecuted only on the basis that
he was negligent of maintaining bank balance. The conduct of the accused
must reflect gross indifference or bad faith. Similar to the offense of
dishonorable failure to pay debt under Article 134, the accused should
show dishonorable conduct. The other elements under paragraph 71 (Article
71) of the Manual for Court Martial are also applicable here.
Example for Article 134- Dishonorable Failure to Maintain Funds
Let us see the case of a soldier who was in the Marine Corps and had served
in Operation Desert Storm during the Gulf War. Unfortunately, two of the
checks he had issued, bounced. When he came back from his overseas deployment,
he was hauled up and given 30 days of restriction, 30 days of EPD (extra
punitive duties), reduction in rank from lance corporal to private (first
class) and a three- month pay cut.