What crimes could get you kicked out of the military?

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Military members are held to very high standards. Even though they have contracts for their service, they can be discharged if the violate any of those terms, which include upholding the law and meeting their duty obligations. All concerns related to acceptable conduct standards, criminal charges and military justice are covered by the Uniform Code for Military Justice and the Manual for Courts-Martial.

Unfavorable discharge from the military, including dishonorable, other than honorable or bad conduct discharge, often results from severe offenses. Servicemembers who face any criminal charges in the civil criminal court system should learn their defense options and how they might be able to minimize the risk of being discharged as a result of their circumstances.

Violent crimes

Violent crimes, are taken seriously by the military. All branches of the service have strict policies against these actions to create a safe environment. Conviction of any type of violent crime can lead to an unfavorable discharge and other penalties, such as loss of benefits, within the military system. In some cases, these come after facing military disciplinary hearing. Even if the servicemember is allowed to remain in the military, they may face a reduction in rank, confinement to their quarters and penalties levied against their pay.

Other criminal charges

Various other crimes that don’t involve violence can lead to a general, other than honorable or dishonorable discharge. These are typically crimes that undermine the integrity or discipline that’s expected of military members.

Drug-related offenses, such as possession, distribution or use of controlled substances, are strictly prohibited. The military enforces a zero-tolerance policy on drugs. Drugged or drunk driving can also lead to unfavorable discharge or other military actions.

Financial crimes, including theft, fraud and undermine the trust essential within the military hierarchy. Theft, whether of military property or personal items, reflects a lack of integrity and respect for others. Fraud and embezzlement, particularly involving government funds or resources, are considered betrayals of the public trust.

Servicemembers who are facing criminal charges must inform the chain of command. Because – in addition to career-related consequences – those facing criminal consequences can face penalties in criminal and civil court, it’s generally wise for service member defendants to have a legal representative who understands how to address their circumstances in a variety of ways.


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