UCMJ Article 129: Burglary
A service member of the United States Armed Forces who forcibly enters the home of another under the concealment of darkness with the intent to commit an offense punishable under Articles of 129 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice may be charged with an act of burglary.
Article 129 (Burglary) is almost always connected with additional offenses under the UCMJ, making it particularly worrisome as a means by prosecutors to vastly increase possible punishment. Should you be convicted of burglary, you will almost certainly face:
- Going to prison for up to a decade, with the possibility of doing decades should you be convicted of both burglary and other charged offenses.
- The loss of all ranks and position, as well as a dishonorable discharge from the military.
- The loss of your hard-earned military benefits, including your healthcare, retirement, and salary.
What Is Article 129 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.
To convict a service member of burglary, the following three elements must be proven:
- That the accused unlawfully broke and entered the dwelling house of another;
- That both the breaking and entering were done in the nighttime, and;
- That the breaking and entering were done with the intent to commit an offense punishable under Article 118 through 128, except Article 123a.
Summary of the Elements of Article 129
Prosecutors must prove that the service member forcibly entered the home of another at night with the intent to commit one or more offenses listed in the articles of the UCMJ, specifically the Articles of 118 to 128.
Military Defense Attorney for Article 129 of the UCMJ: Strategies and Tactics
Burglary charges are unique in that prosecutors must prove you intended to perform another crime in addition to the act of breaking into the home. Intent, therefore, will play a critical role in the defense’s strategy. In addition to intent, both the presence of the accused in the home and the relation of the accused to the victim or the homeowner may be contested by the defense.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail:
- Presence in the home: Is there any evidence at all which puts you at the scene of the crime? Does the prosecution have forensic evidence and, if so, can that evidence explained in some other way (i.e. you were a frequent visitor of the house) or discredited (i.e. did law enforcement plant or mishandle the evidence)?
- The intent of the accused: If the presence of the accused in the house is uncontested, but he or she was apprehended or fled before any crime was committed, what, exactly, was the intent of the burglary? Did the accused intend to perform any criminal offense at all? Was it a lesser offense, such as theft? Prosecutors must prove the service member intended to perform some other crime to convict him or her of burglary.
- Connection with the victim and the home: What is the service member’s connection with the victim, if any? Is there any evidence which suggests the service member intended to harm this individual personally? Did the service member have reason to believe he or she lived in the home or had the right to sleep there?
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Experienced Military Defense Lawyers for Article 129 Charges
Service members have relied on Bilecki & Tipon to defend them against serious and outrageous charges under the UCMJ. Do not wait a minute longer. Contact our military criminal defense lawyers today and receive your first consultation. Bilecki & Tipon will help you fight back against charges under Article 129: Burglary
Frequently Asked Questions About Article 129: Burglary
What Is the Maximum Possible Punishment for Article 129?
A service member convicted under Article 129 for charges of burglary is subject to a maximum sentence which includes:
- Reduction to E-1
- Forfeiture of all pay and allowances
- Confinement for 10 years
- Dishonorable discharge
Because a burglary conviction requires the service member to have the intent to commit a completely separate offense (the offense which led the service member to perform the burglary in the first place) additional charges will typically be on the charge sheet. Therefore, it is possible—even likely—that the final sentence incurs sentencing beyond what is listed here.
What Other Charges Are Associated with Burglary?
Prosecutors must prove you intended to commit a separate offense after the act of breaking and entering the home. These offenses include:
- Article 118: Murder
- Article 119a: Death or Injury of an Unborn Child
- Article 120, 120b, and 120c: Sexual Assault and Other Sexual Misconduct
- Article 122: Robbery
- Article 128: Assault