Punitive Articles of the UCMJ

Article 117 - Provoking speeches or gestures

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Text of Article 117

“Any person subject to this chapter who uses provoking or reproachful words or gestures towards any other person subject to this chapter shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”


(1) That the accused wrongfully used words or gestures toward a certain person;

(2) That the words or gestures used were provoking or reproachful; and

(3) That the person toward whom the words or gestures were used was a person subject to the code.


(1) In general. As used in this article, “provoking” and “reproachful” describe those words or gestures which are used in the presence of the person to whom they are directed and which a reasonable person would expect to induce a breach of the peace under the circumstances. These words and gestures do not include reprimands, censures, re-proofs and the like which may properly be administered in the interests of training, efficiency, or discipline in the armed forces.

(2) Knowledge. It is not necessary that the accused have knowledge that the person toward whom the words or gestures are directed is a person subject to the code.

Lesser included offenses. —attempts

Maximum punishment. Confinement for 6 months and forfeiture of two-thirds pay per month for 6 months.

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Above Information from Manual for Court Martial, 2002, Chapter 4, Paragraph 42