What to Know About Malingering in the Military

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Military man accused of malingering at the doctor's office.

Sometimes you just don’t feel like getting out of bed. Most of us can remember those days we had as children during which we pretended not to feel well in order to skip a test or stay at home entirely. But while this was reasonably harmless, this is not necessarily the case when such an action is taken while in the military. In fact, malingering in the military is considered a major crime. 

According to Article 115 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), malingering is described as “Any person . . . who for the purpose of avoiding work, duty, or service (1) feigns illness, physical disablement, mental lapse, or derangement; or (2) intentionally inflicts a self-injury.”

For an individual to be found guilty of malingering in the military, there are a few elements that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. 

  1. The individual accused must have been assigned (or aware that they could be assigned) the work, duty, or service in question;
  2. The individual accused must have pretended to have the injury or intentionally inflicted a self-injury; and
  3. The individual accused must have done so with the intent to avoid doing the work, duty, or service, whether to avoid all or just part of an assignment. 

If the offense was committed during a time of war or in a hostile fire pay zone, this third element must be proven during the court-martial. 

What Are the Punishments?

In order to determine the consequences of malingering in the military, it is dependent upon the specific circumstances of the case. It is based on whether the injury was feigned or self-inflicted, and if the offense occurred in a time of war or in a hostile fire pay zone. Here are the maximum potential punishments upon a conviction of malingering in the military.

  • For a feigned injury: Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, confinement for 1 year.
  • For a feigned injury in a hostile war zone or time of war: Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, confinement for 3 years.
  • For an intentional, self-inflicted injury: Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 5 years.
  • For an intentional, self-inflicted injury in a hostile war zone or time of war: Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 10 years. 

It is evident from these punishments that malingering is not taken very lightly by the military. This is because one person’s absence can place others in increased danger. 

The Court-Martial Law Division of Aviso Law LLC Helps Military Members in Colorado Who Have Been Charged with Malingering

If you or someone you know is preparing for a court-martial for malingering (or another crime), it is important that you consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Court Martial Attorney. 

Whether you are presently under investigation, facing a court-martial, or seeking an appeal, the Court-Martial Law Division of Aviso Law LLC can help. We proudly serve our military members, who sacrifice so much. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

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