Military Defense Lawyer

What is Article 83 of the UCMJ?

R. Davis Younts

Military Lawyer

Article 83 of the UCMJ deals with the offense of malingering within the military. Malingering occurs when a service member, aware of their duty or assignment, pretends to be ill, physically disabled, mentally impaired, or deliberately inflicts injury upon themselves to avoid fulfilling their responsibilities. If this act takes place during a time of war or in a hostile fire zone, it is considered an aggravated offense.

A violation of Article 83, UCMJ (Malingering), generally has three key aspects:

  • The accused had a duty or assignment for work, duty, or service, or was aware of such an assignment.
  • The accused pretended to be sick, physically disabled, mentally impaired, or intentionally caused harm to themselves.
  • The accused’s intention in doing so was to avoid their duty or assignment.


To be charged with Malingering, a service member must purposefully take actions that prevent them from fulfilling their military duties, regardless of how serious or permanent the resulting illness or injury may be. It doesn’t matter if the injury wasn’t caused by violence; if the accused knowingly does something that leads to illness or disability, they can still be charged under Article 83.

What is the maximum punishment? 

The severity of punishment for malingering depends on whether a service member fakes illness or intentionally harms themselves. Feigning illness, disability, or mental issues can lead to a dishonorable discharge, complete loss of pay, and up to one year of confinement. On the other hand, intentional self-inflicted injuries can result in up to five years of confinement.

The consequences become even more severe if the feigned illness or self-inflicted injury happens in a hostile fire pay zone or during a time of war, with potential sentences of up to 5 years and 10 years of confinement, respectively.

How to deal with an Article 83 Charge

If someone is facing charges under Article 83 as a principal of a crime, it’s crucial to seek immediate legal representation. Attorney R. Davis Younts has been a prosecutor, a JAG (Judge Advocate General), He’s been practicing law for two decades. Call attorney Younts Law at (833) 739-5291 or (717) 612-4840. Free consultation.

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