Article 92 (UCMJ): Failure to Obey an Order or Regulation

If you’re a service member of the Armed Forces, you’re most likely familiar with the United Code of Military Justice or UCMJ. This federal law serves as the foundation for the military justice system in the US military.

Among the rules regulated by the UCMJ is Article 92, which covers failure to obey order or regulation from military superiors. What exactly is Article 92 UCMJ, and how does violating this article affect a military member’s life? We’ll answer these questions and more in this article.

Military personnel on active duty

What Is Article 92 of the UCMJ?

As per the UCMJ, Article 92 is when the accused violated the standard operating procedure of obeying a general order or regulation in the military. Obedience is vital in military operations, and if an accused failed to follow lawful orders, there will be consequences. It doesn’t take much to prove that someone failed to obey lawful general order, but how does the military determine if a lawful order was disobeyed?

There are three offenses under Article 92, namely:

  • Violation or failure to obey lawful general orders or regulations. Under this offense, it must be proven that there was, in effect, a particular lawful general order or regulation, and the accused was obligated to follow that order or regulation and violated it.
  • Failure to obey other lawful orders. Under this offense, a member of the Armed Forces must have issued a certain lawful order. The accused knew that the Armed Forces issued that lawful order and had a duty to obey it but they failed to do so.
  • Dereliction of duty. Under this offense, the accused must have had certain duties and must have been aware of them without a reasonable doubt. The accused knew of these duties, and that person was willfully or through neglect or culpable inefficiency derelict in the performance of the said duties.

The Importance of Article 92 in the Armed Forces

Failure to obey an order or willful dereliction is a common offense in the military because obedience is vital in military operations. Discipline and order must be upheld to maintain the military’s integrity. However, it should be noted that a person can only be accused of violating Article 92 if an authority figure within the military issued an official order or regulation. That order or regulation must have retained valid military purpose even after a change in command. Moreover, the accused must have been fully aware of that order or regulation.

It is a privilege to have been promoted in the military, and that promotion allows military personnel to make lawful orders to support a military mission. Article 92 reinforces the military structure and ensures all service members respect the hierarchy within the military.

Types of Offenses and Consequences Under Article 92

A service member’s maximum punishment would depend on a case-per-case basis. In cases wherein there was a violation or failure to obey lawful general orders and regulations, the maximum sentence a person can receive is confinement for two years, a dishonorable discharge, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances. The punishment for violations or failure to obey other lawful orders may include confinement for six months, a bad conduct discharge, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

Meanwhile, dereliction of duty through neglect or culpable inefficiency may include confinement for three months and forfeiture of two-thirds pay a month for three months. Suppose dereliction of duty through neglect or culpable inefficiency resulted in grievous body harm or, worse, death. In that case, the accused may receive confinement for 18 months, a bad-conduct discharge, and all pay and allowance forfeiture.

In cases of willfully derelict military personnel, the case may result in confinement for six months, a bad-conduct discharge, and pay and allowance forfeiture. Meanwhile, willfully dereliction of duty that resulted in grievous bodily harm or death may result in confinement for two years, a dishonorable discharge, and all pay and allowance forfeiture.

These punishments may have a severe impact on military personnel’s lives. The person subject to receiving a bad or dishonorable discharge will not enjoy the full benefits granted to military veterans. Confinement can affect their morale and mental health, while the forfeiture of pay can have long-term financial repercussions.

How Do You Defend Against Failure to Obey An Order and Dereliction?

Not all cases are black and white, and there might have been loopholes in the order or regulation that the service member violated. The key to a strong defense in Article 92 cases is knowledge of the lawful order issued. The accused must thoroughly understand the stipulations they were subject to and find sufficient evidence in their defense.

This is where a military defense attorney comes in. If you or someone you know was accused of violating Article 92, you should seek the professional legal help of experts who have handled similar cases. You need someone who understands military law, including Article 92, to have a fighting chance.

Article 92 and Military Culture

While violators of Article 92 may not automatically receive a bad or dishonorable discharge, having this offense on your records can have long-lasting consequences. Failure to obey order or regulation in military positions puts one in a bad light, especially in a professional environment that highlights order and cohesion.

If you fail to follow an order or regulation, your future commander, who wasn’t involved in the case you were accused of, may have trust issues with you even before you work together. Understandably, you would need to prove that you’re capable of performing certain duties in the future.

Comparing Article 92 with Civilian Law

There may be similar rules and regulations in civilian law, but the consequences are different for military personnel. Civilians may be fined depending on the statute or regulation they violated. However, their actions may not directly affect their professional compensation.

Meanwhile, all active duty service members are subject to the UCMJ Article 92. Thus, their livelihood may be affected by failure to obey an order or regulation.


Female US army soldier

Violation of Article 92 may have long-term effects on service members. That’s why it’s vital to be empowered to take action if accused of violating the UCMJ article. Fortunately, many military defense attorneys are willing to help defend their cases. To learn more about military life, explore the SCRACVS website further.


What is a negligent dereliction of duty?

This occurs when a person fails to perform that person’s duties or when that person performs them in a culpably inefficient manner. This may have been done willfully or through neglect.

What is the punishment for Article 92?

The punishment would depend on the circumstances surrounding the case. A service member may be subject to confinement, forfeiture of pay and allowances, and a bad or dishonorable discharge.

What are examples of dereliction of duty?

An example is when a service member fell asleep on their manned post when they were required to stay awake. Another example is when a person gets intoxicated to the point they can’t perform their duties.

Attorney Roy Kaufmann serves as the Director of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Centralized Verification Service, located in Washington, D.C. As a recognized authority on the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, Mr. Kaufmann has published hundreds of articles and hosted many webinars. His teachings help law firms and businesses to remain compliant with the SCRA rules and regulations so as to avoid costly fines.