Demotion (rank)

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Demotion of Alfred Dreyfus (Paris, January 5, 1895)

Demotion is the slang term for a lowering of a person from their original rank within a hierarchy in the course of disciplinary proceedings , i.e. the opposite of a promotion . This occurs both in the military in the military disciplinary system and in the civil service .

Like all disciplinary measures, this can be imposed in the event of violations of internal company regulations and of violations of generally applicable legal norms.



In the Bundeswehr's disciplinary law , a distinction is made between a reduction in the salary group and a reduction in rank .

The reduction in the salary group is regulated in Section 61 of the Military Disciplinary Code (WDO) and can only be imposed on soldiers whose rank is in two salary groups - staff sergeant in A 6 / A 7, lieutenant colonel in A 14 / A 15, colonel in A 16 / B 3 - and who are paid after the higher level. The “demoted” retains his rank, but receives less salary and may be transferred to a post with a lower post .

On the other hand, the downgrade leads to the loss of the old rank. In accordance with Section 61 of the WDO, officers may be reduced by one or more ranks up to the lowest officer rank of their career. Officers can therefore be demoted to the rank of lieutenant. An exception are the medical officers , who can only be reduced to the rank of medical officer (equivalent to Captain A 12). Another exception are officers who have been hired as major at least with a higher rank . They can only be reduced to a major.

In the case of non-commissioned officers who are professional soldiers , a reduction to sergeant-major is possible, in the case of staff non-commissioned officers to the rank of non-commissioned officer ; there are no restrictions for all other soldiers.

Both measures can only be imposed as judicial disciplinary measures by a military service court , usually the first instance troop service court, and result in a three-year transport ban. The period begins when the judgment becomes final. Assignment to a position in a higher grade for ranks that are assigned to several grades (see lowering of the grade above) is also excluded. In exceptional cases, the court can shorten the period to two years. ( Section 62 (3) WDO)

After the downgrading, the only more difficult measure possible is removal from employment (early dismissal) ( Section 63 WDO), the so-called "maximum measure ".


In civil service law , the measure is called downgrading . It relates to the respective grade. If another official title is used for the lower grade - which is the case in almost all cases - this must be used. A civil servant can only be downgraded to the entry office of his career - simple , middle , upper or higher service .

The demotion can only be imposed by the disciplinary chamber of an administrative court and includes a five-year ban on promotion. As a more difficult measure, there is only removal from the civil service (early release), the so-called maximum measure .


In Swiss military criminal law , the degradation v. a. regulated in Art. 35 of the Military Criminal Law of June 13, 1927 (MStG; SR 321.0). It is a secondary punishment that can be pronounced by a military tribunal against a member of the army who has been convicted of a crime or misdemeanor . There is no restriction on the maximum downgrade allowed.

United States of America

The Uniform Code of Military Justice allows demotion across rank groups. One example is the demotion of Frank Wuterich . He was demoted from Staff Sergeant (rank group NCOs ) to private (rank group men ).


Individual evidence

  1. or the corresponding ranks Chief Petty Officer , Commander , Captain , Colonel pharmacist , fleet pharmacist , Colonel doctor , navy doctor , Colonel veterinary