UCMJ Article 124a And 124b: Bribery And Graft

At Bilecki Law Group, we defend service members against charges related to bribery and graft under Article 124 of the UCMJ. We know there is more to the story and the prosecution’s case isn’t as strong as they convey. Fight back and you can win.

What Is Article 124 Of The UCMJ?

Article 124 of the UCMJ governs charges related to pursuing false claims, bribery and graft as committed by service members of the U.S. armed services. As it pertains to bribery and graft, Article 124 covers charges related to offering, accepting, or promising a bribe or graft.

Whereas allegations of bribery and graft are indeed serious charges, anyone who has ever stepped into military culture understands that there exists a culture of trading favors for official decisions that is well established. The desire to get out of watch or duty looms large among the enlisted culture and if you have to offer something of value, so be it.

That could be a bottle of whiskey, cans of SKOAL, or even playing wingman and taking one for the team. So, let’s not pretend that an underground barter system doesn’t exist with the military as it relates to official decisions. It does and that is an incontrovertible truth. However, when it rises to the level of bribery or graft that catches a command’s attention, serious charges and devastating consequences will ensue.

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What Specific Bribery And Graft Charges Exist Under Article 124a and 124b?

There are four specific charges related to bribery and graft under article 124a and 124b. With each charge, there are specific elements the prosecution must satisfy to find the service member guilty and we’ll list those below, just as you would see them within the UCMJ. We’ll also show you the maximum punishment you could be facing if found guilty. Again, bribes and graft exist within the military culture on a mundane level. So if you read this and think, “Oh shit, I’m guilty” don’t freak out. A good military defense attorney will be able to take the elements and wield them as weapons on your behalf against an overzealous prosecution.

Bribery (Asking, Accepting, Or Receiving) – 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 wrongfully (asked for) (accepted) (received) (state the thing of value alleged), a thing of value, from (state the name of the person or organization alleged);

(2) That, at that time, the accused (occupied an official position) (had official duties), namely, (state the official position or official duties, as alleged);

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(3) That the accused (asked for) (accepted) (received) this thing of value with the intent to have (his) (her) (decision) (action) influenced with respect to (state the matter alleged); and

(4) That (state the matter alleged) was an official matter in which the United States was interested.

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

 Bribery (Promising, Offering, Or Giving) – 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 wrongfully (promised) (offered) (gave) (state the thing of value alleged), a thing of value, to (state the name of the person alleged);

(2) That, at that time, (state the name of the person alleged) (occupied an official position) (had official duties), namely, (state the official position or official duties as alleged);

(3) That this thing of value was (promised) (offered) (given) with the intent to influence the (decision) (action) of (state the name of the person alleged) with respect to (state the matter alleged); and

(4) That (state the matter alleged) was an official matter in which the United States was interested.

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

 Graft (Asking, Accepting, Or Receiving) – 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 wrongfully (asked for) (accepted) (received) (state the thing of value alleged), a thing of value, from (state the name of the person or organization alleged);

(2) That, at that time, the accused (occupied an official position) (had official duties), namely, (state the official position or official duties, as alleged);

(3) That the accused (asked for) (accepted) (received) this thing of value (as compensation for) (in recognition of) services (rendered) (to be rendered) (rendered and to be rendered) by (him) (her) in relation to (state the matter alleged); and

(4) That (state the matter alleged) was an official matter in which the United States was interested.

Maximum Punishment: Dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 3 years confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.

 Graft (Promising, Offering, Or Giving) – 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 wrongfully (promised) (offered) (gave) (state the thing of value alleged), a thing of value, to (state the name of the person alleged);

(2) That, at that time, (state the name of the person alleged) (occupied an official position) (had official duties), namely, (state the official position or official duties as alleged);

(3) That this thing of value was (promised) (offered) (given) (as compensation for) (in recognition of) services (rendered) (to be rendered) (rendered and to be rendered) by the said (state the name of the person alleged) in relation to (state the matter alleged); and

(4) That (state the matter alleged) was an official matter in which the United States was interested.

Maximum Punishment: Dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 3 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 Serious Are Charges Of Bribery and Graft Under Article 124?

Again, bribery and graft take place within military culture and when mundane, no one blinks an eye. You slip the armorer $20 bucks to accept your dirty rifle on the first try after the field op or you quietly drop a bottle of whiskey on the Duty NCO desk so that a certain incident doesn’t make it into the log book. Both the duty and armorer are in official capacities and by definition, that would qualify as a charge under Article 124.

However, when the dollar figures get substantial or the official capacity such as bribing a military investigator to look the other way are involved, it gets serious in a hurry. More often than not, the prosecution is going to overplay their hand and make the case sound like a done deal when

gavel-on-keyboard

they charge you. They are trying to scare you into compliance because they know what we know. Military investigators do a lousy job on a regular basis.

Yes, if convicted, your military career is likely over. However, your conviction is not a foregone conclusion. The prosecution must prove the elements we list above and though the military justice system lets prosecutors play and tee up from the women’s and children’s tee, they still have to hit the damn ball and we make them do that for every element.

How to Fight Back and Win Against Article 124 Charges?

Because mundane bribery and graft are commonplace in the military, it may be that you are facing charges from a fickle command who decided your case was the time to make a stand. Your only option is to take the fight right to the heart of the military justice system. When a bully comes looking for trouble, you give that bully the last thing they want. Namely, a punch right in the mouth.

There could be a million reasons why what you gave or accepted in an official capacity was just a gift or one buddy doing another buddy a solid. You drop whiskey on the Duty’s desk because last week, he gave you his last can of SKOAL in the field. Maybe you have the armorer $20 bucks to pay him back for all the whiskey he had to drink to during his night of wingman duties.

The point is, don’t give the prosecution an inch and make them work for a living. You could be six months from retirement and if the military justice system thinks making an example out of you will scare others into compliance, they will take everything from you. It’s not right and it’s not justice. This is true, even if you did indeed make a mistake and let poor judgment pull you away from your proper course of actions while on duty.

You’ve given too much to the military to let them take it all now, just so they can have their public example. If you are under investigation or facing charges under Article 124 of the UCMJ, reach out to us and we’ll show you exactly what you are facing. We’ll give you a free defense strategy session that you can deploy, even if you choose not to retain us.

Just know that if you do retain us, we are going to fight like hell on your behalf. We’ll put together an aggressive defense and shred any witness they bring to the stand. Too much is on the line to leave any of it to chance. A fight is coming your way whether you want one or not. Get us into that fight and we’ll show the prosecution that no easy win is to be found here. Get us into the fight and let’s protect your career, retirement, and your freedom.

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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