Article 134: Mail: Taking, Opening, Secreting, Destroying, or Stealing

When a service member of the United States takes, opens, destroys, or steals another person’s mail—either from that individual’s mail box or from the U.S. postal system—he or she could be at risk of a conviction under Article 134 of the UCMJ.

You may have heard that tampering with mail is a federal offense. But a service member may also be convicted for the same offense under Article 134. Should you be convicted, you could face charges equal to—if not harsher—than that of a federal conviction for mail tampering.

  • If convicted, you could find yourself dishonorably discharged from the military, losing not only your pay and allowances, but tens to hundreds of thousands in healthcare and retirement benefits.
  • The loss of your pay and entitlements could leave your family in desperate financial straits. If you received a reenlistment bonus, it may have to be paid back.
  • Even your freedom is at stake. A maximum sentence for taking, opening, secreting, destroying or stealing mail is up to five years in prison.

Tampering with mail is a serious offense that could destroy your military career and land you behind bars. Do not take the risk. Retain the law firm of Bilecki & Tipon TODAY.

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What Is Article 134 (Mail: Taking, Opening, Secreting, Destroying or Stealing) 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. Most mail crimes fall under two categories: taking, and all other offenses. The following elements must be proven for each:

(1) Taking

(a) That the accused took certain mail matter;

(b) That such taking was wrongful;

(c) That the mail matter was taken by the accused before it was delivered to or received by the addressee;

(d) That such taking was with the intent to obstruct the correspondence or pry into the business of secrets of any person or organization; and

(e) That, under the circumstances, the conduct of the accused was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.

(2) Opening, secreting, destroying or stealing

(a) That the accused opened, secreted, destroyed, or stole certain mail matter;

(b) That such opening, secreting, destroying, or stealing was wrongful;

(c) That the mail matter was opened, secreted, destroyed, or stolen by the accused before it was delivered to or received by the addressee; and

(d) That, under the circumstances, the conduct of the accused was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.

Summary of the Elements of Article 134 (Mail: Taking, Opening, Secreting, Destroying or Stealing): To be convicted under Article 134, a service member must have taken, opened, stolen, or destroyed a parcel or piece of mail intentionally and without the consent of the recipient of the mail. Furthermore, the offense must be prejudicial to good order and discipline or service discrediting.

Military Defense Attorney for Article 134 of the UCMJ: Fighting Back Against Charges of Opening, Taking, Secreting, Destroying or Stealing Another Person’s Mail

Military prosecutors secure a conviction 9 times out of 10. Charges under Article 134 are no exception. If they have already formally accused you of opening, taking, secreting, destroying or stealing another person’s mail, it likely means they have all the evidence they need to convict you.

Prosecutors may anticipate an easy win. What they do not anticipate is your hiring an experienced court martial lawyer to represent you in court. A reputable attorney can quickly undermine the prosecution’s case against you, calling into question your interaction with the mail, and discrediting pieces of evidence and witness testimony which may have been critical to securing a guilty verdict.

Before the prosecution has even a minute more to plan their strategy against you, begin making plans of your own by hiring a law firm with experience, resources, and global reach. Consider retaining Bilecki & Tipon LLLC today.

Why should you hire Bilecki & Tipon LLLC?

  • UCMJ and court-marital experience: Timothy J. Bilecki and Noel Tipon have been fighting for America’s service members for decades. They have defended hundreds of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines from UCMJ offenses, both inside the military’s justice system as JAG Corp officers and outside the JAG Corp as private attorneys.
  • Talented in-house team of legal experts: An individual attorney may not have the resources to take on the military’s law enforcement and prosecutors by himself, but we certainly do. Bilecki & Tipon LLLC employs a full time investigator with over 30 years of law enforcement experience as well as an experienced support staff. And we can use that firepower to secure the most positive outcome for your case.
  • Global reach, fast response times: By the time you are formally accused of a crime, you are already running out of time. Bilecki & Tipon is strategically located in Hawaii, in close proximity to hundreds of installations throughout the Pacific, Asia, the United States and beyond. The faster you retain our law firm, the sooner we can help secure a positive outcome.

Have you been accused of tampering with mail? It could mean the end of your military career. Contact Bilecki & Tipon TODAY to learn how you can start fighting back.

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Experienced Military Defense Lawyers for Article 134 Charges

With decades of experience and hundreds of service members successfully represented in court, Bilecki & Tipon LLLC has proven itself as one of the most established and reputable military law firms America today. Please review our case history to learn more about how we operate, and why service members continue to choose Bilecki & Tipon LLLC for their court martial defense.

Bilecki & Tipon will help you fight back against charges under Article 134: Mail: Taking, Opening, Secreting, Destroying, or Stealing

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Maximum Possible Punishment for Article 134 (Mail: Taking, Opening, Secreting, Destroying, or Stealing)?

A conviction of negligent homicide under Article 134 of the UMCJ is subject to the following maximum sentence:

  • Dishonorable discharge
  • Forfeiture of all pay and allowances
  • Confinement for 5 years

I Though The Mail I Destroyed Was Junk Mail. Is That a Defense?

Unfortunately, it will be hard to build a defense strategy around that story. The UCMJ does not consider the value of the mail to have any bearing on the case. So even if it was junk mail, if it was addressed to another individual, you could still be accused and convicted.

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.
  • Bilecki & Tipon, LLLC This was the best investment I have ever made in my life. Again I am forever in debt to this firm.
  • Bilecki & Tipon, LLLC Mr. Bilecki and his law group ARE that best team.
  • 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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