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500+ Successful Court Cases & Counting: See Reviews ➔

UCMJ Article 117: Provoking Speeches or Gestures

A service member of the United States Armed Forces who use words or gestures to provoke or enrage another service member may face charges under Article 117 of the UCMJ.   Charges under Article 117 can easily catch a service member off guard, especially if no physical altercation ensued from the verbal confrontation.   But make no mistake—should you be convicted, you will face charges that could outright end your military career:

  • You could face jail time to the tune of 6 months. Half a year of your life could be destroyed in an instant, by just a single ill-timed comment.
  • The damage a conviction will do to your reputation and your upward mobility in the military will be catastrophic.
  • Pay raises will dry up. Your military rank will stagnate. Promotions will go to others regardless of your merit or seniority.

You’ve worked too hard to watch your military future be destroyed by one rude gesture or comment. Fight back TODAY and clear your record and your good name of these absurd government charges.  

What Is Article 117 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. Three such elements are listed under Article 117 of the uniform code of military justice:

  1. That the accused wrongfully used words or gestures toward a certain person;
  2. That the words or gestures were provoking or reproachful; and
  3. That the person toward whom the words or gestures were used was a person subject to the code
Soldiers walking and gesturing

Summary of the Elements of Article 117: To convict a service member under Article 117, prosecutors must prove that the accused used words or gestures toward another service member which were harsh enough to warrant an altercation or a breach of the peace.

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Military Defense Attorney for Article 117 of the UCMJ: Strategies and Tactics

Words can be twisted, taken out of context, and misinterpreted. Witnesses may forget the exact words that were said, and anger can cloud the meaning behind a gesture or expression. Whatever the case may be, it is clear that no article 117 case is as simple as it originally appears.

Even if you believe your case is hopeless, there is always a chance that Bilecki Law Group can help.   The first step is to create a strategy and narrative that takes the circumstances of your alleged offense into account. We’ll begin by asking a handful of critical questions regarding your case:

  • What words were allegedly said, and what gestures were allegedly used? Could these have been misinterpreted in the heat of an angry discussion? Emotions will be running high in the moments leading up to the alleged provocation. Those emotions may influence judgment and even the ability to see or hear clearly, and therefore absolutely play a role in the service member’s guilt or innocence.
  • Were there any witnesses that can verify these words or gestures? Are there any discrepancies between what the witnesses are saying, and what the alleged victim is saying? Are there other individuals that saw something, yet were ignored by the prosecution? We’ll look for witnesses that might contradict what the alleged victim and the government’s witnesses are saying. We’ll also cross-examine all government witnesses to identify inconsistencies in their narrative.
  • Do you have a reputation for heated exchanges or fights with other service members? What about the alleged victim? Does the alleged victim have a history of bringing up charges against other service members? We’ll look into the history of the alleged victim. We’ll also consider character witnesses that will attest to your honorable reputation and levelheadedness in the military.

A single alleged gesture or comment made in anger is all it takes to end a promising military career. Do not give prosecutors the chance to do so. Fight back TODAY with the help of Bilecki Law Group.

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Experienced Military Defense Lawyers for Article 117 Charges

The defense attorneys at Bilecki Law Group have beaten the odds and acquitted service members of criminal charges under the UCMJ time and again.   Decades of combined experience and hundreds of case victories make Bilecki Law Group one of the premier military defense firms operating in America today.   Bilecki Law Group will help you fight back against charges under Article 117: Provoking Speeches or Gestures

UCMJ Article 87b

Frequently Asked Questions About Article 117

A guilty verdict under Article 117 will incur sentencing that will not exceed the following:

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

Under the UCMJ, provoking speech must:

  • Be made in the presence of the service member that it is being directed at
  • Is inflammatory enough to lead a reasonable person to cause a breach of peace, whether through aggressive actions or additional verbal attacks.

Additionally, the military does not consider provoking speech to include reprimands, censures, or reproofs which may be used in the interests of training, efficiency or discipline of the armed forces.

Don’t just plead guilty… Fight Back !