Asked in Military Law for Nevada

Q: What exactly does dishonorably discharged mean ?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Bradley M. Glaze
Bradley M. Glaze
  • Military Law Lawyer
  • Madison, MS

A: Like many terms that you may find in dealing with the law, "dishonorable discharge" has a very specific meaning for attorneys who practice military law, and another meaning that is applied by the general public. The legal or technical definition of dishonorable discharge ("DD")is found under Rule for Court Martial (R.C.M.) 1003 (8)(B), which is titled "Punishments". Under this rule, a DD only applies to enlisted members of the Armed Forces or warrant officers who have not been commissioned. (Note that commissioned officers or warrant officers are "dismissed"). Also, it can only be imposed by a General Court-Martial, and "should be reserved for those who should be separated under conditions of dishonor, after having been convicted of offenses usually recognized in civilian jurisdictions as felonies, or of offenses of a military nature requiring severe punishment...." As a practical matter, many consider a "dishonorable discharge" to be anything less than an "honorable discharge". In addition to the types of discharge that can be imposed by a court-martial, servicemembers who are separated from service administratively may receive characterizations of service such as "general discharge" or "other than honorable". If it is a very short period of service, there may even be "uncharacterized". Any of these types of discharge will be found on the service member's Department of Defense Form 214 ("DD-214").

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