UCMJ Article 124: False Claims, False Oaths And Signature Forgery In Pursuit Of a Claim

At Bilecki Law Group, we defend service members against charges of pursuing a false claim under Article 124 of the UCMJ. The prosecution thinks their case against you is rock solid, but our own investigation will show the truth.

What Is Article 124 Of The UCMJ?

Article 124 of the UCMJ is a wide ranging statute that governs an array of charges related to pursuing false claims, bribery, and graft. A “claim” is defined as a demand for a transfer of ownership of money or property. There are eight specific charges under Article 124 related to pursuing false claims and each one comes with its own devastating consequences if found guilty.

Because the charges pursuing false claims are so wide ranging, we’ll focus singularly on them in this writing and save bribery and graft for its own. The process of pursuing false claims is considered a white-collar crime in the civilian world and typically leaves an elongated paper trail. It takes organizations like the FBI months and years to carefully outline the evidence against the accused.

Military investigators are not the FBI and they have neither the time nor the inclination to proceed in a meticulous and detailed manner. They make assumptions. They make mistakes. Their sloppy work is often the key to your freedom and we’ll outline how you can fight back and win below.

Your world does not have to come crashing down around you. Let us help you.  

What Specific Charges Related to False Claims Exist Under Article 124?

There are eight specific charges that you could face with regards to false claims under Article 124 and each one comes with a list of specific elements that the prosecution must prove to find you guilty. For the purpose of clarity, we’ll show you the elements for each charge as it is written within the UCMJ and the corresponding maximum punishment you could face.

Making false claim – 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 made a certain claim against (the United States) (__________, an officer of the United States) for (state the nature and amount of the alleged claim);

(2) That the claim was (false) (fraudulent) (false and fraudulent) in that (state the particulars alleged); and

(3) That, at the time the accused made the claim, (he) (she) knew it was (false) (fraudulent) (false and fraudulent) in that (state the particulars alleged).

 

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

Presenting false claim – 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 presented for (approval) (payment) (approval and payment) to a person in the (civil) (military) service of the United States having authority to (approve) (pay) (approve and pay) a certain claim against (the United States) (__________,an officer of the United States), such a claim for (state the nature and amount of the alleged claim);

(2) That the claim was (false) (fraudulent) (false and fraudulent) in that (state the particulars alleged); and

(3) That, at the time the accused presented the claim, (he) (she) knew it was (false) (fraudulent) (false and fraudulent) in that (state the particulars alleged).

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

Making or using false writing in connection with a claim – For service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following four elements:

(1) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused (made) (used) (made and used), a certain (writing) (paper), namely, (state the writing or paper alleged);

(2) That this (writing) (paper) contained (a) certain material statement(s), to wit: (state the contents of the statement(s) alleged), which (was) (were) (false) (fraudulent) (false and fraudulent) in that (state the particulars alleged);

(3) That, at the time the accused (made) (used) (made and used) the (writing) (paper), (he) (she) knew that (this) (such) (a) statement(s) (was) (were) (false) (fraudulent) (false and fraudulent); and

(4) That the (making) (using) (making and using) of the (writing) (paper) (was) (were) for the purpose of obtaining the (approval) (allowance) (payment) (approval, allowance, and payment) of a claim against (the United States) (__________, an officer of the United States).

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

Making false oath in connection with a claim – 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 made an oath (to the fact that (state fact alleged)) or (on a certain (writing) (paper), namely, (state the writing or paper alleged)), to the effect that (state the matter alleged);

(2) That the oath was false in that (state the particulars alleged);

(3) That the accused knew at the time that the oath was false; and

(4) That the oath was made for the purpose of obtaining the (approval) (allowance) (payment) (approval, allowance, and payment) of a claim against (the United States) (__________, an officer of the United States).

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

Forging or counterfeiting signature in connection with a claim – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following two elements:

(1) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused (forged) (counterfeited) (forged and counterfeited) the signature of (state the person alleged) upon a certain (writing) (paper), namely (state the writing or paper alleged); and

(2) That this (forging) (counterfeiting) (forging and counterfeiting) was done for the purpose of obtaining the (approval) (allowance) (payment) (approval, allowance, and payment) of a claim against (the United States) (__________, an officer of the United States).

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

Using forged signature in connection with a claim – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following three elements:

(1) That the accused used the (forged) (counterfeited) (forged and counterfeited) signature of (state the name of the person alleged), on a certain (writing) (paper), namely, (state the writing or paper alleged);

(2) That the accused knew that this signature was (forged) (counterfeited) (forged and counterfeited); and

(3) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused used the signature for the purpose of obtaining the (approval) (allowance) (payment) (approval, allowance, and payment) of a claim against (the United States) (__________, an officer of the United States).

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

Delivering amount less than called for by receipt – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following four elements:

(1) That the accused had (charge) (possession) (custody) (control) of (state the money/property alleged), (money) (property) of the United States (furnished) (intended) (furnished and intended) for the armed forces;

(2) That the accused obtained a (receipt) (certificate) for a certain (amount) (quantity) of this (money) (property) from (state the name of the person alleged);

(3) That for the (receipt) (certificate), the accused (state the time and place alleged), knowingly delivered to (state the name of the person alleged), a person who had authority to receive it, (an amount) (a quantity) of this (money) (property) which (he) (she) knew was less than the (amount) (quantity) specified in the (receipt) (certificate); and

(4) That the undelivered (money) (property) was of the value of (state the value alleged).

Maximum Punishment: Value of $1,000 or less comes with a bad conduct discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 6 months 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.

Making or delivering receipt without knowledge it is true – For the service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following five elements:

(1) That the accused was authorized to (make) (deliver) (make and deliver) a paper certifying the receipt from (state the name of the person to whom the receipt was allegedly made or delivered) of certain property of the United States (furnished) (intended) (furnished and intended) for the armed forces;

(2) That (state the time and place alleged) the accused (made) (delivered) (made and delivered) to (state the name of person alleged) a certificate of receipt, in the following words and figures: (state the alleged description of the writing);

(3) That, at the time the accused (made) (delivered) (made and delivered) the certificate of receipt, (he) (she) did so without having full knowledge of the truth of (certain of) the material statements contained in this certificate of receipt (that is, (set out those statements as to the truth of which the accused did not have full knowledge, if specifically alleged));

(4) That the accused (made) (delivered) (made and delivered) the certificate of receipt with intent to defraud the United States; and

(5) That the property certified as being received was of the value of (state the value alleged).

Maximum Punishment: Value of $1,000 or less comes with a bad conduct discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 6 months 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.

Are you being accused of maiming a civilian or another service member? Bilecki Law Group can help. Contact us today to receive a free consultation.

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How To Fight Back And Win Against Article 124 Charges Of Pursuing A False Claim?

The truth of the matter is that there could be 99 legitimate reasons why you felt you were entitled to make this claim, but the prosecution is really only concerned with the 1 hypothetical reason that they deem malicious. Moreover, military investigators are going to act like they are trying to take down the Wolf of Wall Street when in reality, you just made a clerical error.

Fortunately for you, military investigators routinely based their investigation around such hypotheticals and they simply don’t have the paper trail to back it up. Or, because they were in a hurry, they skip the proper steps to acquire such documentation and blow the case from the start.

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What is most important that you understand is that no matter how ironclad the prosecution makes their case seem, there is likely some avenue to attack the process. You just have to be willing to fight back and give the prosecution no easy wins. These crimes may seem boring to most, but try spending the next 5 years in military prison because you assumed your innocence would be obvious to all.

If you want to pursue the best possible outcome for yourself, you need to get ready to fight. If you want to test whether or not they are willing to give you the max punishment, lay down and beg for mercy. By the time you realize that you are wrong it will be too late.

If you are facing charges under Article 124 of the UCMJ, reach out to us and we’ll give you a free consultation. We’ll give you a free defense strategy session where you can take that

information and use it whether or not you choose to retain us. When you do retain us, we’ll put together an aggressive defense and take the fight right to the heart of the military justice system. Don’t let them make an example out of you. Fight like hell and get us into that fight.

Frequently Asked Questions About Article 124

For service members convicted of maiming, Article 124 suggests a maximum punishment which includes:

  • Reduction to E-1
  • Forfeiture of all pay and allowances
  • Confinement for 20 years
  • Dishonorable discharge

Additional offenses may increase these penalties significantly.  

Yes. According to the Manual for Court Martial, “if the injury is done under circumstances which would justify or excuse homicide, the offense of maiming is not committed.” In other words, if you bite off the ear of an attacker who is trying to kill you, you would have a complete defense to the maiming.

Don’t just plead guilty… Fight Back !

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