ARTICLE 134 - WRONGFUL INTERFERENCE WITH ADVERSE ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS
This article covers incidents where a service member is accused of carrying out an act that impairs administrative proceedings. If the accused intends to obstruct or interfere with any such proceedings, he is punished as deemed fit through a court martial process.
The elements to be proved in these trails are as follows:
- That at a specific time and place, the accused carried out a specific wrongful act.
- That the accused did this with respect to himself or another person against whom he expected adverse administrative proceedings to be initiated.
- That the accused did these acts with the objective of influencing, impairing or obstructing the proceedings or to obstruct the administration of justice in anyway.
- That given the circumstances, the accused's behavior was against good order and discipline that is typically expected of a member of the armed forces; or that his behavior was such that it would cause discredit to the armed forces.
- When the accused's acts have involved a potential witness, the prosecution also has to prove that he believed that the witness would be asked to give evidence.
WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM PUNISHMENT FOR VIOLATING THIS ARTICLE?
The accused faces dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and 5 years confinement if he is proven guilty of wrongful interference with adverse administrative proceedings.
POINTS TO NOTE ABOUT ARTICLE 134 WRONGFUL INTERFERENCE WITH ADVERSE ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS
The accused has carried out a 'wrongful' act in this respect if he has no legal justification to support his behavior. The accused can be found guilty irrespective of whether the adverse administrative proceedings involved himself or anyone else. It is not necessary for the prosecution to establish that actual impairment or obstruction of the administrative proceedings did occur. It is sufficient to prove that the accused's acts were fueled by an intent to bring about such disruption or influence.
The term 'adverse administrative proceedings' refers to any administrative action that is brought about against a service member by the Army, the Department of Defense or its agency that may result in:
- the accused being discharged
- the accused losing incentive pay or special pay
- reduction in grade
- bar on re-enlistment
- loss of security clearance
However, any proceedings that have been initiated by other agencies may not constitute adverse administrative proceedings.
The accused shall be deemed guilty of these violations even if adverse administrative proceedings have not been initiated yet or investigation has not been started. It is sufficient to show that the accused believed that such proceedings may be initiated and that his acts were aimed at preventing the successful completion of these proceedings.
Communication with victim or witnesses may not be a violation under this article in all cases. Asking the witness or victim to avoid reporting an incident may not be wrongful interference unless the prosecution can prove beyond doubt that the accused knew of the possibility of adverse administrative proceedings and he wished to interfere with this process.
Telling an alleged victim or witness about his right to remain silent or even asking him to exercise that right may not constitute wrongful interference in all cases. However, this does constitute violation of the UCMJ if the prosecution can establish that the accused did so with a corrupt motive to protect himself or others.
The accused has violated the UCMJ only if he has sufficient reason to believe that adverse proceedings had begun or would begin shortly. It is also necessary to show that the accused's acts were carried out with the specific objective of interfering in the proceedings in some way.