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What are “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” Under Military Law?

By Joseph Low on February 25, 2013

Those serving in any branch of the United States military are held up to a high standard that requires obedient service and obligations that are not present in many other people’s lives. Often, actions taken by military members deemed as crimes would not be seen as such if committed by civilians. Members of the military may be charged with committing “high crimes and misdemeanors” if they have violated the rules, acted against the country, or committed various crimes in the line of duty.

But what exactly does this term mean?

The term originates from Section Four, Article Two of the U.S. Constitution, which states that civil officers of the country can be impeached when convicted of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The idea of a “high crime” comes from the terms used during the 17th and 18th centuries. Those who have special duties that are not shared by common people due to taking an oath of office for a political position can commit a high crime. “Misdemeanors” is often taken to be a smaller offense, but one that still violates military law and work against the country as a whole.

While interpretations of this phrase have varied over the years, it has continued to be used in the military trials of various people. Different actions that do not include commonly prosecuted criminal activities in the U.S. for civilians that have been labeled as high crimes and misdemeanors include:

  • Treason
  • Perjury
  • Abuse of authority
  • Dereliction of duty
  • Refusal to obey a lawful order
  • Bribery
  • Intimidation
  • Misuse of assets
  • Conduct unbecoming

The penalties that result from a military trial conviction can have long lasting effects both in and out of the military world. As such, everyone who faces such accusations deserves experienced and skilled representation. Long Beach military defense attorney Joseph Low has dedicated his career to the lives of those facing these charges, applying his years of experience as both a former Marine and an attorney to every case he takes on. For more information on how we may be able to assist you, call The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV at (888) 454-5569.

Posted in: Military Defense

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