The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is set up to maintain proper order and establish a strong moral code for US servicemembers to follow. Servicemembers are tasked with the duty of serving and protecting the citizens, values, and property of the United States. Unfortunately, this does not always happen, as the best intentions of some servicemembers find them violating these principles. Because of this, the UCMJ makes it a criminal offense for any US servicemember to defraud the United States of anything considered its property under Article 132. Furthermore, this article includes making or presenting false claims, falsifying or forging signatures, or failing to ensure accurate accounting of US property in a transaction.
The penalties for such infractions can be significant. They can not only cost you your career but also strip you of benefits or land you in confinement.
UCMJ Article 132
As with any crime, violations of a UCMJ article must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This means there must be certain elements proven to convict you of the accused crime.
Under Article 132, there are eight total offenses, each with its own set of elements. These offenses include:
- Making a false or fraudulent claim
- The accused made a claim against the United States or a designated officer.
- There are particulars of the claim that are false and/or fraudulent.
- There was knowledge that the claim was false or fraudulent.
- Presenting for approval or payment a false or fraudulent claim
- The accused presented false or fraudulent material to a United States civil or military entity with the authority to approve or pay for the material.
- Certain aspects of the claim were false or fraudulent.
- The accused had knowledge that the claims were false or fraudulent.
- Making or using false writing or other paper in connection with claims
- The accused created or used a particular writing or other paper.
- Either the writing or other papers were false or fraudulent.
- The accused knew the writing or other papers were false or fraudulent.
- The actions were done intentionally to obtain the approval, allowance, or payment of specific claims owned by the United States or a designated officer.
- False oath in connection with claims
- The accused swore an oath to a specific fact.
- There were some falsities in the oath.
- There was knowledge of these falsities.
- The action was taken with the intent of obtaining the approval, allowance, or payment of certain monies or properties owned by the United States or a designated officer.
- Forgery of a signature in connection with claims
- The accused used forgery or counterfeiting of a specific person’s signature on a piece of paper or other material.
- Such forgery or counterfeiting was used with the intention of obtaining approval, allowance, or payment towards money or property owned by the United States or an officer thereof.
- Using a forged signature in connection with claims
- The accused knowingly and intentionally used the forged or counterfeit signature of another individual.
- The accused knew the signature in question was forged or counterfeit.
- The forged or counterfeit signature was used knowingly to obtain the money or property that was intended for the United States or an officer designee.
- Delivering less than the amount called for by a receipt
- The accused was in possession, custody, or deemed to be in charge of certain money or property owned by the United States that was designated for military purposes.
- The accused was able to obtain a receipt for a specific sum of that money or property.
- The accused delivered a receipt or certificate to a party that was expecting it and knowingly delivered it with a value less than the amount that was expected.
- The amount not delivered was money or property of a certain value.
- Delivering or making a receipt without full knowledge that it is true
- The accused was authorized by a specific individual to go to a specific United States property to serve as a courier and deliver a certified receipt for said property for the United States military.
- The delivery was made.
- The accused did not have full knowledge of the truth of the statement(s) contained in it.
- The act was done explicitly and with the intention to defraud the United States.
- There was a certain value to the property being certified.
While each part of the article has its own unique characteristics, the underlying commonalities are the same. This means that the prosecution must prove that:
- The property in question was owned by the United States.
- The accused knew the property belonged to the United States.
- The servicemember failed to act with due diligence to protect the property owned by the United States.
Defending Article 132
After fully investigating the circumstances of the case and knowing what charges you may face, a defense can be built that may help save your career. Common defenses include:
- Investigating the paper trail and determining if it tells the whole story or if there are certain elements that are missing. There is a possibility that mistakes, typos, or other errors exist due to human error.
- Understanding what prior knowledge existed before the fraud occurred. This could include knowing if any orders were given to the accused that caused them to commit the crime of which they are accused.
- Reexamining the investigation and confirming it was done correctly and all the evidence was gathered correctly. The original investigation must be logged correctly. Evidence must also have been obtained under the correct subpoenas and warrants.
Military Criminal Defense Attorney
The UCMJ exists to establish a strong foundation for decision-making and behavior in the military. Nevertheless, there can often be violations that occur unknowingly or as the result of an infraction by someone else. However, the accusation, no matter the circumstances, means that you could face an end to your career, a loss of important benefits, and possible jail time. If you have been accused of a military crime, particularly one under Article 132, it is important that you use your right to representation and get the help that you deserve. At Aaron Meyer Law, our team has years of knowledgeable experience that help us provide the best defense for our clients. Contact our offices today and get the help you deserve.