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Crimes and Offenses Under the UCMJ

The UCMJ has a list of crimes and offenses for which a servicemember can face court-martial. These are listed in Article 77-134, UCMJ, 10 U.S. Code Sec. 877 plus. What follows are the ones most often seen prosecuted at court-martial and at which we have been the military defense lawyer.
  • Violating Article 77UCMJ, will get you in trouble if you have aided, abetted, commanded, procured someone else who commits a crime. If convicted you get exposed to the same potential punishment as the person who actually commits the crime (there are some limitations, but you should get the point.) Article 78, UCMJ, is different because what you do after a person has committed a crime is what gets you in trouble if you, receive stolen goods, help the other person escape, or cover-up, or hide evidence or themself. They get you coming and going.
  • If you try to commit and offense but don't succeed, then you likely have committed an Attempt under Article 80, UCMJ. To be guilty of this offense you have to done more than "mere preparation," something that is a substantial step in carrying out your crime. Also, there is a defense called "abandonment."
  • Getting together with a friend or others to discuss carrying out a crime is a Conspiracy under Article 81, UCMJ. To be guilty at least one of the conspirators has to have done an "overt act" to carry out the conspiracy--once that has been done then you are guilty of conspiracy even if the ultimate crime never happens. There is a defense of "withdrawal."
  • Soliciting someone to commit a crime is a crime by you. If you ask a friend to go beat up someone else, that would be solicitation to commit assault and battery in violation of Article 82, UCMJ.
  • Malingering is not good and can get you in trouble under Article 83, UCMJ.
  • Article 84, UCMJ, we do not see breaching of medical quarantine as a charge too often. Some people have run afoul of the UCMJ in failing to stay quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Articles 85 - 87, UCMJ, involve absence offenses.

  • Articles 88 - 92, 93a, UCMJ, involve offenses against superiors or disobedience of orders.

  • Article 94, UCMJ, involves mutiny or sedition. No, Lieutenant General Flynn will not be prosecuted for alleged acts of sedition. His statements do not meet the threshold for seditious speech. Read more about Flynn and prosecuting retirees here. Some years ago, I did represent a prisoner at the USDB who, along with about 14 others, had engaged in a mutiny while in the Special Housing Unit.

  • Article 95 & 96, UCMJ, involve offenses regarding sentries and lookouts.

  • Article 104, UCMJ, involves offenses regarding public records. This is not often charged, even though there are some possible scenario's where it could be--BAH fraud, travel fraud, fraudulent enlistments or discharges.

  • Article 105, UCMJ, comes up most often in cases of BAH and Travel Fraud that we see and represent people about as military defense lawyers.

  • False writing or false signature.

  • Apparently imposes or changes a legal right (in BAH cases--money entitlements).

  • And gives it to someone knowing the document is false.

  • Article 106a, UCMJ, is a charge we have represented quite a few people on over the years as military defense lawyers--people wearing unauthorized badges, tabs, medals, ribbons, etc.

  • Article 107, UCMJ, involves false official statements. Prosecutors love to tack this charge on when you have, according to them, "lied" to NCIS, OSI, CID, CGIS. Unlike federal courts, the military doesn't care if the "lie" had any impact on the case or the investigation. In federal courts under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1001, the supposed lie has to be "materially false." So in the military you can be convicted of saying "I didn't do it" but not in federal court. (Oddly, Article 107a deals with a parole violation.) 

  • Articles 108-109, UCMJ, deal with crimes against property.

  • Articles 112 - 113, UCMJ, are about drinking and drugs.

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