If you have been accused of fraternization, you should seek help from a defense attorney who has handled similar situations successfully. Our Honolulu-based military fraternization lawyer could help you understand exactly how the command will likely handle any alleged violation and work diligently to defend your best interests during any ensuing action taken against you.
Fraternization under Article 134, UCMJ, prohibits officers from fraternizing with enlisted members. This Article is not meant to prohibit low-level camaraderie or teamwork between enlisted members and officers, but instead intended to prohibit overly personal relationships that affect an officer’s ability to appear and act impartial and undermine good order, discipline, authority, or morale. There are five elements of fraternization as it is broadly defined under Article 134:
Common examples of “fraternization” in this context include romantic or sexual relations, shared living quarters, gambling, borrowing or lending money, or engaging in repeated private commercial transactions. Our Honolulu-based lawyer who has experience with military fraternization offenses could help examine the grounds on which the accusation is based and work to challenge these allegations on their merits.
Although Article 134, UCMJ, only prohibits fraternization between officers and enlisted members, each branch of the service has regulations that prohibit fraternization between enlisted superiors and subordinates. A violation of these regulations will be charged as failure to obey a general order or regulation under Article 92, UCMJ. Proof that you actually knew about the general order or regulation is not required. Therefore, “I didn’t know,” is not a defense.
AF I36-2909 prohibits “unprofessional relationships” between all personnel, to include all enlisted ranks. It specifically prohibits relationships that actually or reasonably appears to: compromise the integrity of the supervisory authority or the chain of command, cause actual or reasonable perception of favoritism, partiality, unfairness, improper use of grade or position for personal gain, demonstrates the abandonment of organizational goals for personal interests, is exploitive or coercive in nature, or creates an actual or reasonably foreseeable adverse impact on good order, discipline, authority, morale, or command’s ability to accomplish its mission.
AR 600-20 specifically prohibits “undue familiarity” between officers and enlisted members, and between “NCO and junior enlisted ranks.” Examples of undue familiarity include repeated visits to bars, night-clubs, eating establishments, or homes, except for social gatherings, that involve an entire unit, office, or work section. All relationships – regardless of rank – are prohibited that actually or appear to: compromise, the integrity of supervisory authority or the chain of command, cause partiality or unfairness, involve the improper use of grade or rank or position for personal gain, be exploitative or coercive in nature, or create an actual or clearly predictable adverse impact on discipline, authority, morale, or the ability of the command to accomplish its mission.
OPNAVINST 5370.2C prohibits personal relationships between enlisted members which are unduly familiar, do not respect differences in rank and grade, and are prejudicial to good order and discipline or of a nature to bring discredit on the naval service. This policy puts chiefs (E-7 through E-9) in a separate personnel category and prohibits them from personal relationships with enlisted members E-1 through E-6 in the same command. It also prohibits some specific positional relationships, e.g., recruiter and recruit, instructor and student.
MARCORMAN 1100.4 prohibits personal relationships between officer and enlisted, as well as NCOs and their junior enlisted subordinates that are unduly familiar and do not respect differences in grade or rank. The focus is on whether the relationship calls into question a senior’s objectivity, results in actual or apparent preferential treatment, undermines the authority of the senior, or compromises the chain of command.
While the military takes fraternization extremely seriously, it does not punish all instances of this offense equally. If the circumstances surrounding the alleged offense are not severe, a servicemember may face light punishment, such as a letter of reprimand, administrative separation, or NJP which may include extra duties, restrictions, or loss of pay.
In more severe situations, however, allegations of fraternization may be addressed through a court-martial, which could potentially end with an accused servicemember facing punitive discharge (dismissal, bad conduct discharge, or dishonorable discharge), forfeiture of pay, and confinement for up to two years. When someone is facing suspicion of fraternization, they should retain our Honolulu-based military defense attorney. As a former enlisted Marine and Army JAG officer, he understands the many legal nuances to fraternization cases and could build a solid defense.
Allegations of fraternization can derail decades of honorable service in an instant, regardless of the severity of the case. To effectively protect your rights in this situation, seeking help from an experienced military attorney is a virtual necessity.
As a former enlisted Marine and Army JAG officer, our attorney knows how important your service is to you. He could fight on your behalf to protect both your reputation and that of the armed forces. Get in touch today to see how our Honolulu-based military fraternization lawyer could help you.