UCMJ Article 102: Forcing a Safeguard
Should a commanding officer issue a safeguard during a time of war to protect the property or persons of an enemy or neutral state, and a service member fails to uphold that safeguard, he or she will be subject to Article 102 of the UCMJ. Like all wartime crimes, Article 102 demands service members pay a heavy price for failing to uphold the law:
- Failing to uphold Article 102 could cost you your life. Would you be willing to pay that price for a single mistake?
- Even if you are spared the death penalty, prosecutors will relentlessly demonize your actions and secure a prison sentence that could extend for decades.
- You will almost certainly be dishonorably discharged from the military upon being found guilty, forcing you to hide your military career from future employers and acquaintances.
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What Is Article 102 of the UCMJ?
All of the U.C.M.J. articles requires prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a handful of critical assumptions that are known as elements to convict you of a crime. Three elements must be proven by the government for charges under Article 102:
- That a safeguard had been issued or posted for the protection of a certain person or persons, place or property;
- That the accused knew or should have known of the safeguard; and
- That the accused forced the safeguard.
Summary of the Elements of Article 102
The government will have to prove that a service member failed to protect or uphold a known safeguard by performing acts that violated the safeguarded property or persons.
Military Defense Attorney for Article 102 of the UCMJ
The military prosecutors will attempt to prove that you intentionally abused the safeguarded property, which in turn caused immediate harm to the reputation and honor of the United States military in a time of war or belligerency.
An aggressive military defense attorney can combat this by focusing on a few critical aspects of the case:
- Was the safeguard common knowledge at the time of the trespass or abuse? Who was tasked with the propagation of the safeguard, and were they successful? Was there confusion over the nature of the safeguard and its boundaries? A full review of the safeguard is a top priority for any case involving an Article 102 charge.
- Did enemy persons under the protection of the safeguard perform actions that required the accused to defend himself or herself from harm? We’ll perform a full investigation of the events leading up to the alleged forcing of the safeguard and identify new witnesses and evidence in the process.
- What actions did you take that allegedly forced the safeguard? Was any harm done to the enemy or neutral persons or property? This may be a case of egregious prosecutorial overreach, which we can quickly point out to a judge and jury.
Do not allow a misunderstanding or mistake in judgment to cost you your life and liberties. Contact Bilecki & Tipon TODAY for a free consultation into your case.
Experienced Court Martial Lawyers for Article 102 Charges
For countless years the defense attorneys at Bilecki & Tipon have been aggressively defending service members from criminal accusations. We know what you’re up against and we have the experience and knowledge to help you fight back successfully.
Bilecki & Tipon will help you fight back against charges under Article 102: Forcing a Safeguard
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FAQs About Article 102 - Forcing A Safeguard
What Is a Safeguard in Military Parlance?
According to the UCMJ, a safeguard is a detachment, guard, or detail posted by a commander for the protection of persons, places, or property of either the enemy or a neutral party affected by the belligerence.
A safeguard affords people and their property safety from abuse during wartime. The U.S. Government takes seriously any abuse to a safeguard because the failure to uphold it could jeopardize the reputation and honor of the country and its military as a whole.
What Is the Maximum Possible Punishment for Article 102: Forcing a Safeguard?
Article 100 is considered a wartime offense, and due to the serious nature of the offense and its implications during wartime, the Manual for Court Martial provides a maximum penalty of death for all offenses listed under Article 102 if the case is referred capital.
That said, there may be mitigating factors that reduce the maximum sentence under Article 102. For instance, a charge of trespassing alone may be enough for the government to level charges against you of forcing a safeguard; but a complete lack of damage to enemy persons or property would likely bring about lesser charges under the UCMJ.