All members of every branch of the United States military forces must follow the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). This set of laws is specifically for military service members, and both enlisted personnel and commissioned officers are expected to follow the UCMJ to the letter. Each Article of the UCMJ pertains to different law, regulation, or potential violation. UCMJ Article 128 pertains to assault.
While many military service members are familiar with the definition of assault in the civilian world, the military not only approaches this topic a bit differently but also prosecutes violations much more aggressively in most cases. If you are charged with UCMJ Article 128 violation while serving in the military, your entire career and your future beyond the military are at stake.
Years of Experience Representing Military Clients
Attorney Aaron Meyer completed his service with the United States Marines and moved to practicing law. Attorney Meyer and his team remain dedicated to protecting the rights of military service members accused of violating the UCMJ. His years of focused experience and dedication to his clients have enabled Attorney Meyer to maintain a spotless record of zero convictions for his clients. If you have been charged with UCMJ Article 128 violation, a detailed military attorney cannot provide the same level of legal counsel you could expect from a private military criminal defense firm like Aaron Meyer Law.
Attorney Aaron Meyer has years of experience both as a service member himself and as a military criminal defense attorney. The team at Aaron Meyer Law exhausts all available resources on behalf of every client we represent, and Attorney Meyer is intensely focused on dismantling a prosecutor’s evidence at the very earliest stages of every case.
Understanding UCMJ Article 128 Assault Law
UCMJ Article 128 makes very clear distinctions between the two main types of assault prosecutable under the UCMJ: Simple Assault and Assault Consummated by Battery. The potential penalties for these two separate violations are distinct, and both are severe.
Article 128 defines Simple Assault as the attempt or offer to do bodily harm to another person using unlawful force or violence. The Article continues by defining Assault Consummated by Battery as the completion of such an attempt or offer by doing bodily harm using unlawful force or violence against the victim.
Penalties for UCMJ Article 128 Violations
Conviction under Article 128 for Simple Assault will lead to a penalty of three months in confinement, forfeiture of two-thirds of the offender’s pay for three months. In the event the accused committed Simple Assault with an unloaded firearm, they face Dishonorable Discharge, confinement for three years, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances. Assault Consummated by Battery is punishable with a Bad Conduct Discharge, confinement for six months, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.
The military also expects all uniformed servicemembers to respect the chain of command. This means that any violation of the UCMJ will incur much harsher penalties when the victim is a superior rank or holds a special position within the military. To put it simply, the higher the rank of the alleged victim, the more severe the consequences the accused faces. UCMJ Article 128 informs how the penalties for violating this Article may change based on the status of the victim:
- “Assault upon a commissioned, warrant, noncommissioned, or petty officer.” The penalty for this offense requires the accused to have prior knowledge of the victim’s rank. The accused faces confinement for 18 months, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and Dishonorable Discharge.
- “Assault upon a sentinel or lookout in the execution of duty, or upon a person in the execution of law enforcement duties.” The penalty for this form of Assault includes forfeiture of all pay and allowances, Dishonorable Discharge, and three years of confinement in military prison.
- “Assault consummated by a battery upon a child under 16 years.” The offender faces Dishonorable Discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and two years of confinement.
- “Aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon or other means of force likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm.” In most cases, the convicted offender faces confinement for three years, Dishonorable Discharge, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances. If the victim was under the age of 16, they face the above penalties with confinement for five years. If they committed this assault with a loaded firearm, they face the above penalties with confinement for eight years.
- “Aggravated assault in which grievous bodily harm is intentionally inflicted.” In most of these cases, the offender faces Dishonorable Discharge, total forfeiture of pay and allowances, and imprisonment for five years. If the victim was under the age of 16, their confinement term increases to eight years. If they inflicted injury with a loaded firearm, their confinement term increases to ten years.
It is also vital to remember that engaging in any such offense will typically incur additional charges for lesser related offenses. For example, if you are charged with aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon, you will likely face a charge of Simple Assault or Assault Consummated by Battery as well. An assault on a Superior Officer is handled separately through UCMJ Article 90.
Legal Defense Against UCMJ Article 128 Assault Charges
When a military service member is charged with UCMJ Article 128 violation, the military prosecutor must prove that they threatened, attempted, and/or completed an assault against the alleged victim. Similar to civilian law, one of the best available defenses to the accused in this situation is self-defense. If the accused can prove they acted in defense of themselves or of another, this may lead to an acquittal. In other cases, it may be necessary to prove the allegations false, challenge the validity of the prosecution’s evidence, or gather witness testimony to clear the accused’s name.
Attorney Aaron Meyer believes in aggressive, detail-oriented criminal defense representation for every client he represents. If you are accused of violating UCMJ Article 128 in any way, it’s vital to secure legal representation as soon as possible to protect your honor and your military career. Our firm has extensive experience handling difficult assault cases on behalf of military clients, and we know how military prosecutors tend to approach these cases. If you are ready to discuss your defense options with an experienced and reliable military criminal defense attorney, contact Aaron Meyer Law today and schedule a case review with our team.