Any person, subject to the UCMJ, who, at an alleged place and time, has made a statement on or about a particular subject, so as to encourage disaffection, disloyalty or both, or to interfere with or impair the loyalty and morale among the members of the armed forces, the civilian population or both, would be violating the Article 134 and shall be punished as deemed fit through a court martial. The statement thus made by the accused person is considered an offense, if it is in anyway disloyal to the United States.

The elements of crime that should hold true, for the accused to be guilty, are as follows:

  • The accused person should have actually made the alleged statement
  • The statement should have been made in public
  • The statement made was disloyal to the United States
  • The statement promotes or encourages the troops or the civilian populace to be disloyal, hostile or both towards the United States
  • The statement impairs and/or interferes with the morale, the discipline or loyalty towards the United States, of a member or multiple members of the US armed forces.
  • The nature of the statement was such that it brings upon discredit to the US armed forces or it disrupts the discipline and the good order of the armed forces.


Under this punitive Article 134, a disloyal statement is a result of the accused person's conduct, which is prejudicial to the good order and discipline of the armed forces and which brings upon discredit to the armed forces. This means that the accused had acted or behaved in such a way as to distort the armed forces discipline and to harm the reputation of the service in general.

A person is said to have "made" a statement only if it was spoken, written, published or printed, uttered, issued or put forth for circulation by him or her. The statement is said to be made "in public" only when it was made openly in the presence of many people, who have the knowledge that the alleged statement was actually made by the accused.

The alleged statement made by the accused should incite disloyalty, where the term disloyalty implies being untrue or unfaithful to the United States as a whole. It is important to note that being disloyal to the US armed forces, a government department of the United States or any other organization need not necessarily be disloyalty towards the United States.

Similarly, the accused must have, by making the statement, promoted disaffection, which means disgust, ill will, or a hostile attitude towards the United States. Again, any disaffection towards the US armed forces or any particular organization or group may not necessarily be disaffection against the United States.

To be more precise, the accused person's behavior, which constitutes willful disobedience or encouraging another member or members of the military or the civilian populace to disregard an order is not equal to disloyalty, disaffection or both towards the United States. It must also be noted that if a person is in disagreement with a policy or objects to it, it does not in any way indicate that he or she is promoting disloyalty or disaffection towards the United States.


Should the accused person be proven guilty under the Article 134, after the evidence obtained by the court proves beyond reasonable doubt that the accused made statements that promote disloyalty or disaffection towards the United States, then he or she shall be subject to a maximum punishment of no more than three years in confinement.


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Joseph L. Jordan is a UCMJ lawyer who travels around the globe to represent service members in military criminal defense matters. He is an accomplished, experienced military attorney who specializes in defending ALL service members against violations of the UCMJ.