UCMJ Article 109: Wasting Or Spoiling Nonmilitary Property

UCMJ Article 109: Wasting Or Spoiling Nonmilitary Property

What Is Article 109 Of The UCMJ ?

Article 109 of the UCMJ covers actions by service members that result in the willful or reckless wasting, spoiling, or damaging of nonmilitary property. In addition, Article 109 covers the taking, stealing, secreting, opening, and destroying of mail.

The UCMJ defines “waste” and “spoil” as to wrongfully and voluntarily destroy or permanently damage real property (, such as burning down buildings, burning piers, tearing down fences, or cutting down trees). It goes on to define “willfully” as intentionally or on purpose and it defines “recklessly” as a degree of carelessness greater than simple negligence.

The most important thing that you can understand about Article 109 of the UCMJ is that if the military justice system is bringing charges against you or you are being investigated, then an unfair fight is about to descend upon you. The military justice system is going to try and make an example out of you and if you don’t fight back, they may take everything from you. So, let’s take a closer look at what they will be bringing and get you ready for the fight.

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What Specific Charges Can Be Brought Against Me Under Article 109?


Charges under article 109 might seem mundane, i.e. tearing down fences or cutting down trees, but you have to understand why the military justice system exists to understand how dangerous these charges can be. The military justice system does not exist for the purpose of pursuing justice. The military justice system exists to preserve order and discipline within the ranks and or that to work, it requires that service members are made an example of to others.

Meaning, they have to destroy someone to scare others into compliance and if you don’t fight back, they will make that example out of you. With each charge, the prosecution must satisfy specific elements to find you guilty and we’ll list those below along with their corresponding maximum punishments.

Wasting Or Spoiling Nonmilitary Property – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following three elements:

(1) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused (willfully) (recklessly) (wasted) (spoiled), certain real property, namely: (describe the property alleged) by (state the manner alleged).

(2) That the property belonged to (state the name of the owner alleged).

(3) That the property was of a value of $_________ (or some lesser amount, in which case the finding should be in the lesser amount).

Maximum Punishment: Value of $1,000 or less comes with a bad conduct discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 1 year confinement and reduction in rank to E-1. 

Value of over $1,000 comes with a dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 5 years confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.

Destroying Or Damaging Nonmilitary Property – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following three elements:

(1) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused willfully and wrongfully (damaged) (destroyed) certain personal property, that is (describe the property alleged) by (state the manner alleged).

(2) That the property belonged to (state the name of the owner alleged).

(3) [That the property was of a value of $__________ (or of some lesser value, in which case the finding should be in the lesser amount)] [That the damage was in the amount of $__________ (or of some lesser amount, in which case the finding should be in the lesser amount).

Maximum Punishment: Value of $1,000 or less comes with a bad conduct discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 1 year confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.

Value of over $1,000 comes with a dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 5 years confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.

Mail (Taking) – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following four elements:

 (1) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused took certain mail matter, to wit: (state the mail matter alleged) addressed to (state the name of the addressee).

(2) That such taking was wrongful.

(3) That the accused took the mail matter before it was (delivered to) (received by) (state the name of the addressee).

(4) That the accused took the mail matter with the intent to (obstruct the correspondence) (pry into the business or secrets of any person or organization).

Maximum Punishment: Dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 5 years confinement and reduction in rank to E-1. 

Mail (Opening, Secreting, Or Destroying) – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following three elements:

 (1) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused (opened) (secreted) (destroyed) certain mail matter, to wit: (state the mail matter alleged) addressed to (state the name of the addressee) .

(2) That such (opening) (secreting) (destroying) was wrongful.

(3) That the accused (opened) (secreted) (destroyed) the mail matter before it was (delivered to) (received by) (state the name of the addressee).

Maximum Punishment: Dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 5 years confinement and reduction in rank to E-1. 

Mail (Stealing) – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following three elements:

 (1) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused stole certain mail matter, to wit: (state the mail matter alleged), addressed to (state the name of the addressee).

(2) That such stealing was wrongful.

(3) That the accused stole the mail matter before it was (delivered to) (received by) (state the name of the addressee).

Maximum Punishment: Dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances,
5 years confinement and reduction in rank to E-1. 

How To Fight Back and Beat Charges Under Article 109 of the UCMJ?

When it comes to wasting or spoiling nonmilitary property, there is always more to the story than the prosecution would like to acknowledge. No service member is sitting in his barracks and suddenly gets the urge to burn down a building or knock down a fence. When it comes to mishandling mail, service members typically are not running a covert mail package theft cartel. No, it’s more like something strange happened and stuff got damaged. Someone delivered mail to the wrong barracks and now military investigators think they just caught Al Capone.

Because the prosecution is under pressure to produce their “examples”, they’ll come at you with everything they have. That’s why we put together our own investigation. We don’t assume the military investigators followed the proper methods of gathering the evidence and we don’t let the prosecution’s witnesses off the hook. Regardless of their rank, we will absolutely shred their witnesses on the stand.

Fight For Your Military Career And Your Freedom

We are not going to let them take your career, retirement, or even your freedom because you accidently drove your motorcycle into someone’s fence off base. We’re not going to let them take you out of the fight for our nation just because you opened someone else’s mail. We’re not going to let them inflate the value of the damages just so they can stick you with a dishonorable discharge. We are going to fight them at every turn and cede nothing to the prosecution.

If you are under investigation or facing a court martial under Article 109, please don’t let the seemingly trivial nature of these charges lull you into complacency. A bad conduct discharge will still follow you after you leave the service. Not to mention that if the prosecution senses a lack of fight in you, they’ll take that opportunity to secure one of their “max punishment examples” just to scare everyone else. Do not let them make an example of you. Present yourself a harder target and let them make that example out of the next guy.

Reach out to us for a free consultation and we’ll shoot you straight on exactly what you are facing. We’ll map out a plan and as long as you are willing to fight for your career, retirement, and freedom, so are we. We’ll punch back and give the military justice system the fight they never wanted. 

 

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