What’s Considered Hazing in the Military?

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The military is known for its culture of carrying out years of customs and traditions. These traditions cover everything from welcoming new members to promotions and other rites of passage. These traditions are important as they promote a sense of unity and comradery between military servicemembers. Unfortunately, sometimes members take things too far and commit hazing as a means of having members prove their commitment and dedication.

What Is Hazing?

There are multiple definitions of hazing throughout military laws and doctrines as well as the Department of Defense (DoD). For this reason, some are confused as to what constitutes hazing. Each branch of the military has adopted some version of the DoD’s definition of hazing. The DoD defines hazing as when a military member does any of the following without proper authority (regardless of his or her rank or service):

  • Causes another member to suffer or be exposed to any activity that is:
  • Cruel;
  • Abusive;
  • Humiliating;
  • Oppressive;
  • Demeaning; or
  • Harmful.
  • Solicits or coerces another member to perpetrate such an activity

Contrary to popular belief, hazing doesn’t have to include any physical contact; it can be verbal or psychological, such as threatening violence. 

UCMJ Article 93

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) Article 93 was historically used for charges related to sexual harassment offenses. However, it can sometimes be used in relation to punishing servicemembers for assaults and improper punishments given. The prosecution is responsible for proving that the victim suffered maltreatment. Maltreatment was present if:

  • The victim was subject to orders of the accused; and
  • The accused was cruel toward, oppressed, or maltreated by that person. 

However, this can be difficult to judge and is generally subjective. 

Punishments for Hazing in the Military

Unit commanders are given the authority to adjudicate hazing incidents. The maximum penalty under UCMJ Article 93 is punitive discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for up to 3 years. However, just because you have been accused of hazing or bullying misconduct, it does not mean that you’re guilty. You have the right to defend yourself against overreaching prosecutors. That’s why it’s important to speak with a military defense attorney as soon as possible. 

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

The U.S. Government has an interest in obtaining a conviction as soon as possible, as it does not wish to gain negative publicity about one of its service members. That is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced military attorney as soon as possible.

If you are a military service member and have been charged with a crime under the UCMJ, the Court-Martial Law Division of Aviso Law LLC can help. We proudly serve our military members, who sacrifice so much for our country. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

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