UCMJ Article 116: Riot or Breach of Peace

Any service member of the United States Armed Forces who acts alone or with others to cause a riot or a breach of the peace within a public community will face charges under Article 116 of the UCMJ.   Inciting riots and creating public disturbances could inflict catastrophic damage upon a service member’s military career and civilian future. For instance:

  • Should you be convicted of inciting a riot, you will face up to 10 years in prison and the loss of ALL military benefits.
  • Even a lesser charge of breaching the peace could lead to a loss of pay and jail time.
  • Regardless of the offense, you’re convicted of, your military career will be all but over. A criminal record will make it next to impossible to advance beyond your current rank.

You have one shot at proving your innocence. If you cherish your liberties and military career, make that one shot count. Call Bilecki Law Group TODAY for a free consultation into your case.

What Is Article 116 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. Two criminal offenses are defined under article 116, each with its own set of elements:

  1. Riot
    1. That the accused was a member of an assembly of three or more persons;
    2. That the accused and at least two other members of this group mutually intended to assist one another against anyone who might oppose them in doing an act for some private purpose;
    3. That the group or some of its members, in furtherance of such purpose, unlawfully committed a tumultuous disturbance of the peace in a violent or turbulent manner; and
    4. That these acts terrorized the public in general in that they caused or were intended to cause public alarm or terror.
  2. Breach of peace
    1.  That the accused caused or participated in a certain act of a violence or turbulent nature; and
    2. That the peace was thereby unlawfully disturbed

Summary of the Elements of Article 116: You may be accused of breaking Article 116 of the UCMJ if you intentionally sought to disturb the public peace in some fashion. Acts of violence, calls for the destruction of property, or causing public terror could all be construed as an offense under Article 116.

Comparing the two criminal actions described under Article 116, rioting is the more serious offense. In addition to causing a “tumultuous disturbance,” prosecutors must also prove that three or more service members worked together to sow chaos within a community for a private purpose.

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Military Defense Attorney for Article 116 of the UCMJ: Strategies and Tactics

Riots and other breaches of the peace are chaotic, tumultuous affairs that can quickly take on a life of their own. The very nature of these crimes makes it difficult—but by no means impossible—for prosecutors to identify individuals associated with their origins and convict them of criminal activities.   Bilecki Law Group will take into account both the circumstances leading up to the riot and the criminal accusations leveled against you before preparing a defense strategy. We’ll begin by looking at a few essential questions:

  • How did the riot or breach of peace begin? What set it off, and what evidence does the prosecution have linking its origins to the service member? As we noted prior, riots and breaches of the peace can take on a life of their own, making it difficult to identify a source to the conflict. We’ll cross-examine government witnesses to see if their stories match up, and may locate additional witnesses who recall a very different version of events.
  • What motives did you have for setting off a riot or causing an unlawful disturbance of the peace? If prosecutors believe you incited a riot, do they have proof that you acted in conjunction with others? While a breach of the peace only requires a single actor, a riot requires prosecutors to prove three or more service members were motivated to incite mob violence for a specific purpose.
  • Do you have a previous history of setting off violent riots or agitating crowds? Did other service members know you as a firebrand with aggressive, loud opinions? If there is no precedent for your actions, it makes it much more difficult for prosecutors to convict you.

Accusations of inciting a riot or breach of the peace do not guarantee your conviction! Fight back with Bilecki Law Group TODAY and we’ll work to exonerate you of all charges.  

Experienced Military Defense Lawyers for Article 116 Charges

Bilecki Law Group are military defense attorneys who defend service members of every branch of the U.S. Military from overreaching government prosecutors and trumped-up military charges. Decades of legal experience combined with our promise to relentlessly fight for you makes us one of the most sought-after law firms operating in the Pacific today.

Bilecki Law Group will help you fight back against charges under Article 116: Riot or Breach of Peace

Frequently Asked Questions About Article 116: Riot or Breach of Peace

What Is the Maximum Possible Punishment for Article 116?

Article 116 consists of two separate offenses, and each offense has a suggested maximum punishment defined by the UCMJ:

  • Reduction to E-1
  • Forfeiture of all pay and allowances
  • Confinement for 10 years
  • Dishonorable discharge

Breach of Peace

  • Reduction to E-1
  • Forfeiture of two-thirds pay per month for 6 months
  • Confinement for 6 months

What’s the Difference Between a Riot and a Breach of the Peace?

Both riots and breaches of the peace are turbulent disturbances to a community which seek to promote violence, terror, or damage to property or persons. However, there are a few key differences. For instance:

  • Inciting a riot requires prosecutors to prove that three or more service members acted together and did so for a specific purpose.
  • A breach of the peace may require only one individual. Examples of a breach of the peace could include loud speech, unruly conduct, discharging a firearm in a crowd or in a public setting, or using language which could provoke violence.
  • Riots incur harsher punishment due to the nature of mob violence and the threat it poses on a peaceful community.

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