Many people are unaware that adultery is actually a criminal offense while in uniform. There are some states that criminalize adultery even for civilians (California is not one of them), but it is essentially almost never actually prosecuted in non-military courts. However, the situation in the military is very different. Being accused and convicted of adultery can result in serious penalties. It is important to understand what constitutes adultery and how it can affect you. According to Military.com, you can find the statues related to adultery in the military in Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

According to the UCMJ, there are three components to adultery in the US military. The first is that an enlisted soldier must have had sexual intercourse with another individual. The next is that either the soldier or the other individual involved in the adultery must have been married at the time of intercourse. The third is that the soldier’s conduct was harmful to the good order and discipline of the Armed Forces.

The first two of these are generally easy to discern. Note that it is not the soldier him or herself that needs to be the married party. The third component is generally more tricky, particularly if one party is legally separated. Whether or not this is considered adultery is generally down to many individual factors, and it is a good idea to seek legal counsel if necessary. It is advisable to do this prior to pursuing a relationship if this is desired.

The consequences for adultery in the military can be severe, and include court-martial or even dishonorable discharge.