Dereliction of Duty (Military Law) Law and Legal Definition

Generally, dereliction of duty refers to failure through negligence or obstinacy to perform one’s legal or moral duty to a reasonable expectation. In other words, it means willful or negligent failure to perform assigned duties or performing them in a culpably inefficient manner. Dereliction of duty is a specific offense in military law. Under the regulations of military law, avoidance of a duty or failure to follow an order from a superior, noncompliance with procedural rules, misbehavior, malingering, self-injury with intent to avoid service, or straggling can result in a charge of dereliction of duty. Ineptitude is a defense against the charge. A person convicted of dereliction of duty can be given a dishonorable or bad behavior discharge from his or her branch of service, and may forfeit pay or be sentenced to six months confinement. U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), addresses dereliction of duty within the regulations governing the failure to obey an order or regulation.