UCMJ Article 131: Perjury And Obstruction Of Justice

At Bilecki Law Group, we defend service members against charges of perjury and obstruction of justice under Article 131 of the UCMJ.

What Is Article 131 Of The UCMJ?

Article 131 of the UCMJ governs charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, and other administrative charges related to the military justice system as committed by members of the United States Armed Services.

Now, it is a documented fact that military prosecutors do not like to lose. In fact, if they lose too much, you can pretty much consider their career over. The military justice system needs its convictions in order to maintain military order and discipline. If you get in their way, they will destroy you as well.

This is where abuse and misuse of the UCMJ can occur in order to wrongfully charge you with perjury or obstruction of justice. In reality, they just didn’t get what they wanted from you and they will threaten you with these charges until they get what they want.

What began as a lie—or accusations of a lie—could lead to the loss of all you hold dear. Do not put your future at risk. Fight back with the help of Bilecki Law Group TODAY.

What Charges Reside Under Article 131 Of The UCMJ?

In total, there are 10 specific charges that reside under Article 131 and we’re going to list them out below. It is essential that you understand each unique charge and each unique element as the prosecution will use every trick in the book in order to catch you in some misdeed that is hindering their thirst for a guilty verdict. They will then hold this over your head and threaten your career in order to gain future compliance from you.

Perjury (False Testimony) – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following seven elements:

(1) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused (took an oath) (made an affirmation) in a (judicial proceeding) (course of justice), that is: (state the judicial proceeding or course of justice alleged);
(2) That the (oath) (affirmation) was administered to the accused in a (matter) (___________) in which an (oath) (affirmation) was (required) (authorized) by law;
(3) That the (oath) (affirmation) was administered by a person having the authority to do so;
(4) That upon such (oath) (affirmation) the accused willfully gave certain testimony, namely: (set forth the testimony alleged);
(5) That the testimony was material;
(6) That the testimony was false; and
(7) That the accused did not then believe the testimony to be true.
Maximum Punishment: Dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 5 years confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.

Perjury (Subscribing False Statement) – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following six elements:

(1) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused subscribed a certain statement, specifically (set forth the statement alleged) in a (judicial proceeding) (course of justice), specifically (state the proceeding alleged);
(2) That in the (declaration) (certification) (verification) (statement), under penalty of perjury, the accused (declared) (certified) (verified) (stated) the truth of that certain statement;
(3) That the accused willfully subscribed the statement;
(4) That the statement was material;
(5) That the statement was false; and
(6) That the accused did not then believe the statement to be true.
Maximum Punishment: Dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 5 years confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.

Perjury (Subornation Of) – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following seven elements:

(1) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused induced and procured (state the name of the alleged perjurer) to take an oath or its equivalent and to falsely (testify) (depose) (state) upon such (oath) (affirmation) concerning a certain matter: (state the alleged matter in which the perjured testimony or statement was given);
(2) That the (oath) (affirmation) was administered to (state the name of the alleged perjurer) in a (matter) (__________) in which an oath or its equivalent was required or authorized by law;
(3) That the oath or its equivalent was administered by a person having authority to do so;
(4) That upon such oath or its equivalent (state the name of the alleged perjurer) willfully (made) (subscribed) a statement, to wit: (set forth the statement as alleged);
(5) That the statement was material;
(6) That the statement was false; and
(7) That the accused and (state the name of the alleged perjurer) did not then believe the statement to be true.
Maximum Punishment: Dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 5 years confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.

Obstructing Justice – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following three elements:

(1) That (state the time and date alleged), the accused wrongfully did (a) certain act(s), that is, (state the act(s) alleged);

(2) That the accused did so in the case of (himself) (herself) (__________) against whom the accused had reason to believe there were or would be criminal or disciplinary proceedings pending;
(3) That the act(s) (was) (were) done with the intent to influence, impede or otherwise obstruct the due administration of justice.
Maximum Punishment: Dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 5 years confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.

Misprision Of Serious Offense – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following three elements:

(1) That the serious offense of (the murder of __________) (_________) was committed by (state the name of the person who committed the offense);

(2) That the accused knew that (state the name of the person who committed the offense) had committed this serious offense; and
(3) That, thereafter, (state the time and place alleged), the accused wrongfully concealed this serious offense and failed to make it known to the civil or military authorities as soon as possible.
Maximum Punishment: Dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 3 years confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.
Testify (Wrongful Refusal) – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following four elements:
(1) That the accused was in the presence of (a) (an) ((general) (special) (summary) court-martial) (board of officers) (military commission) (court of inquiry) (officer conducting a preliminary hearing under Article 32, Uniform Code of Military Justice) (officer taking a deposition), (of) (for) the United States, at which (state the name and rank of the presiding official) was presiding;
(2) That (state the name and rank of the presiding official)
(a) directed the accused to qualify as a witness, or
(b) directed the accused, after (he) (she) had qualified as a witness, to answer the following question(s) as a witness, namely: (set forth the question(s) alleged);
(3) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused refused to (qualify as a witness) (answer such questions); and
(4) That the refusal was wrongful.
Maximum Punishment: Dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 5 years confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.
Prevention of Authorized Seizure of Property – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following three elements:
(1) That (state the name(s) of the person(s) alleged), (a person) (persons) authorized to make searches and seizures (was) (were) seizing, about to seize, or endeavoring to seize certain property, to wit: (state the property alleged);
(2) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused (destroyed) (removed) (disposed of) (state the property alleged) with the intent to prevent its seizure; and
(3) That the accused then knew that (state the name(s) of the person(s) alleged) (was) (were) seizing, about to seize, or endeavoring to seize (state the property alleged).
Maximum Punishment: Dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 5 years confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.
Noncompliance with Procedural Rules (Unnecessary Delay in Disposing of case) – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following five elements:
(1) That the accused was charged with the duty of (state the duty alleged) in connection with the disposition of the case of (state the name of the person alleged), a person accused of an offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice;
(2) That the accused knew that (he) (she) was charged with this duty;
(3) That (state the time and place alleged), delay occurred in the disposition of the case;
(4) That the accused was responsible for the delay; and
(5) That, under the circumstances, the delay was unnecessary.
Maximum Punishment: Bad conduct discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 6 months confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.
Noncompliance with Procedural Rules (Failing to Enforce or Comply with Code) – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following four elements:
(1) That, at (state the time and place alleged), the accused failed to (enforce) (comply with) Article (___) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice regulating a proceeding (before) (during) (after) trial of an accused by (state the manner alleged);
(2) That the accused had the duty of (enforcing) (complying with) that provision of the Uniform Code of Military Justice;
(3) That the accused knew that (he) (she) was charged with this duty; and
(4) That the accused’s failure to (enforce) (comply with) that provision was intentional.
Maximum Punishment: Dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 5 years confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.
Wrongful Interference with an Adverse Administrative Proceeding – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following three elements:
(1) That (state the time and date alleged), the accused wrongfully did (a) certain act(s), that is, (state the act(s) alleged);
(2) That the accused did so in the case of (himself) (herself) (__________) against whom the accused had reason to believe there (was) (were) or would be (an) adverse administrative proceeding(s) pending; and
(3) That the act(s) (was) (were) done with the intent to (influence) (impede) (obstruct) the conduct of the administrative proceeding(s), or otherwise obstruct the due administration of justice.
Maximum Punishment: Dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 5 years confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.

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How To Fight Back and Win Against Article 131 Charges?

The easiest way to fight back against Article 131 charges is to have an experienced military defense attorney by your side from the first sign of an investigation and all the way through the end of a court martial if needed. If you let the prosecution bait you into making one of these mistakes under Article 131, they are absolutely going to destroy you.

Bilecki Law Group will help you fight back against charges under Article 131: Perjury

Make no mistake about it, the prosecution will not fight fair and if you are in their way they will hold nothing back. That’s just the reality of the military justice system. This is true if you are the service member originally charged with another UCMJ Article violation and this is true if you were just brought in as witness or involved in some other aspect of the investigation.

It may be that you were just trying to cover for your buddy or you didn’t want to rat him out, but if you are facing Article 131 charges, it means you are now the object of the military justice system’s wrath. Don’t let the prosecution walk you into ruining your military career. Reach out to us before you speak with the investigators and get us into this fight early. That’s your best defense and when we get into the fight, we’ll be by your side until the very end.

Frequently Asked Questions About Article 131

A service member convicted under Article 131 for charges of perjury is subject to a maximum sentence which includes:

  • Reduction to E-1
  • Forfeiture of all pay and allowances
  • Confinement for 5 years
  • Dishonorable discharge

No. Prosecutors do not care why you perjured yourself. And your intentions for lying under oath are no defense for perjury. Whether you did so to protect a friend or were afraid to offer the truth out of fear for your safety is immaterial to your case. 

Your defense team will still benefit from hearing your full story. But your intentions—however good or sincere—for lying under oath are not going to hold up in court.

Don’t just plead guilty… Fight Back !

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