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Tim Bilecki

Right to be Present at Trial

An accidental fall or a simple dare from a fellow Sailor to jump from a U.S. military vessel into the water has gone from amusing to terrifying. You have learned that the jump is considered a criminal offense under Article 87b of the UCMJ. Worse, that jump could lead to your being kicked out of the military and even thrown into prison. A jump into the water seems like a minor and insignificant offense. But it carries with it a maximum sentence which must be taken seriously. If you are convicted under Article 87b, you could quickly find yourself facing:

  • A bad-conduct discharge is absolutely on the table in the worst-case scenario, leaving your military benefits—including your pay and allowances—in serious doubt.
  • The military may force you to pay back a substantial amount in bonuses rendered, leaving your finances in ruin for years.
  • Under the worst case scenario, you face up to six months in prison, with no way to provide for or even see your family.

Jumping into the water from a U.S. military vessel could end your military career. An experienced attorney gives you a fighting chance to save it. Contact us today for a confidential consultation. 

What Is Article 87b (Jumping From Vessel Into Water) of the UCMJ?

Every article of the UCMJ requires prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a handful of critical assumptions—known as elements—to convict you of a crime. A soldier of the U.S. armed forces may be convicted of jumping from a vessel into the water if the following elements are established by prosecutors:

  1. That the accused jumped from a vessel in use by the armed forces into the water;
  2. That such act by the accused was wrongful and intentional; and
  3. That, under the circumstances, the conduct of the accused was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.

Summary of the Elements of Article 87b (Jumping from Vessel Into Water): The vessel must be in use—either at sea, at anchor, or in a port—at the time of the jump into the water by the service member. Furthermore, prosecutors must prove the jump was intentional, and that it dishonored the military or created disorder among the crew or any other service members.

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