UCMJ Article 121: Larceny & Wrongful Appropriation

A service member of the United States Armed Forces who takes possession of another’s property without their consent in order to permanently or temporarily defraud or deprive them of that property will face charges under Article 121 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Financial fraud crimes are expanding in both number and complexity within the Armed Forces, as is the average punishment and the volume of convictions for such offenses. Should you be convicted, you will quickly face:

  • Aggressive sentencing which could leave you behind bars for years.
  • A bad-conduct or even a dishonorable discharge, even for the theft of lesser military property which you may have simply forgotten to return.
  • You could lose everything you’ve worked for—your military healthcare, your salary, your pension. All of it could be taken away overnight should you be convicted.

The risk of a conviction increases with every passing day. Protect your future and your freedoms as soon as possible by making a single call to the experts in larceny defense in the military: Bilecki & Tipon.

What Is Article 121 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 121, each with its own set of elements.

(1) Larceny

(a) That the accused wrongfully took, obtained, or withheld certain property from the possession of the owner or of another person;

(b) That the property belonged to a certain person;

(c) That the property was of a certain value, or of some value; and

(d) That the taking, obtaining or withholding by the accused was with the intent permanently to deprive or defraud another person of the use and benefit of the property or permanently to appropriate the property for the use of the accused or for any person other than the owner

(2) Wrongful appropriation

(a) That the accused wrongfully took, obtained, or withheld certain property from the possession of the owner or of any other person

(b) That the property belonged to a certain person;

(c) That the property was of a certain value, or of some value; and

(d) That the taking, obtaining or withholding by the accused was with the intent temporarily to deprive or defraud another person of the use and benefit of the property or temporarily to appropriate the property for the use of the accused or for any person other than the owner.

Summary of the Elements of Article 121: Two formal criminal offenses are defined under Article 121. Both require the government to prove that a) the accused took the property of another without the consent of that person, and b) the property had some meaningful value.

A final element distinguishes larceny from wrongful appropriation. The difference between larceny and wrongful appropriation is that, with larceny, the government must prove that the accused had no intention of returning the property, whereas, with wrongful appropriation, the accused took the property in order to use it as leverage for some other purpose, with the intent to later return that property to its owner.

Military Defense Attorney for Article 121 of the UCMJ: Strategies and Tactics

In preparation of a defense strategy and court narrative, we’ll perform a complete review of your circumstances and background to determine how best to proceed with your case. We’ll also review the offenses you’ve been charged with to determine the best strategy to employ at trial.

We may begin by reviewing a few key aspects of your alleged financial fraud offense, including, but not limited to:

  • Law enforcement’s handling of the case. Were you caught up in a larger sting operation, and if so, was it legal? Did law enforcement acquire financial records, receipts, or evidence of your alleged fraud legally? Was forensic evidence found at the scene of the alleged larceny and if so, was that evidence mishandled?
  • The property in question and its value. Did you have reason to believe that the property was yours? What was your relation to both the owner of the property and the property itself? Were you the owner of this property? Had it been borrowed? Regarding the property itself, can a third party confirm its value? Is this military property?
  • Your intentions regarding the property. Did you plan to immediately return the property? If so, what did you intend to use it for while it was in your possession? Can we back up your claims with testimony or showcase your unblemished record of service in the Armed Forces?

Do not let accusations of theft destroy your military career and darken your civilian future. Fight back TODAY with the help of the financial fraud defense attorneys at Bilecki & Tipon.

Experienced Military Defense Lawyers for Article 121 Charges

Bilecki & Tipon’s courtroom skills and tactics have become the de facto gold standard for military defense lawyers defending service members from financial fraud offenses. Decades of service to the men and women in the Armed Forces has made us the premier law firm operating out of the Pacific today.

Bilecki & Tipon will help you fight back against charges under Article 121: Larceny and Wrongful Appropriation

FAQ'S About Article 121

What Is the Maximum Possible Punishment for Article 121: Larceny and Wrongful Appropriation?

Two criminal offenses—larceny and wrongful appropriation—are defined under Article 121 of the UCMJ, and each offense has its own maximum offense:

Larceny

  • Military property:
    • Maximum punishment includes the reduction to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, a dishonorable discharge and 10 years confinement.
  • Non-military property:
    • Maximum punishment includes the reduction to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, a dishonorable discharge and 6 years confinement.

Wrongful appropriation

  • Military property:
    • Maximum punishment includes a reduction to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, a dishonorable discharge and 2 years confinement.
  • Non-military property:
    • Maximum punishment includes reduction to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, a dishonorable discharge and 6 months confinement.

Why Is the Punishment of Larceny and Wrongful Appropriation So Varied?

The maximum punishment for a larceny charge in the military ranges from 6 months confinement all the way up to 10 years. So why does Article 122 have such a wide range of sentencing?

The answer is directly related to the value and nature of the property as well as the intent of the service member who took it.

The harshest charges involve the theft of military property—especially military pay, military vehicles, explosives, and weapons. Service members could easily face a decade or more in prison should they be convicted.

On the other hand, the property of lesser value in the military—under $500—or property of that amount that is not military property, could, by comparison, receive a slap on the wrist (6 months confinement at most and a bad-conduct discharge).

Additionally, intent matters in financial fraud cases. Larceny, for example, will incur harsher sentencing than wrongful appropriation because, with larceny charges, the intent of the Service Member was to defraud the individual permanently of their property.

What Our Clients Are Saying About Us

  • Bilecki & Tipon, LLLC His knowledge and experience were evident during the Article 32 where he seemed to sort of take control of the court room.
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  • Bilecki & Tipon, LLLC Mr. Bilecki and his team are extremely aggressive, thorough, and know what they are doing. They saved my life.
  • Bilecki & Tipon, LLLC Do not go into the courtroom by yourself. Go in with a confident hard charging legal firm like Bilecki & Tipon.
  • Bilecki & Tipon, LLLC Mr. Bilecki and his associates are amazingly qualified and skilled in handling UCMJ cases.
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