Article 115 - Defense Against Communicating Threats
Under Article 115 of the UCMJ, a service member shall be punished as deemed fit by the military court if they wrongfully communicate a :
- general threat to injure a person, the property, or the reputation of another
- threat to injure a person or property by use of any a weapon such as a weapon of mass destruction, a biological or chemical agent, or a hazardous substance or material
This article also states that if a service member:
- maliciously communicates or conveys a false threat or attempt to unlawfully injure, kill, or intimidate a person by use of an explosive, weapon of mass destruction, biological agent, biological substance, biological weapon, chemical agent, chemical substance, chemical weapon, a general weapon or any other hazardous material
they shall be punished as deemed fit by the military court.
Elements To be Proven
Elements for General Threats
The following elements of the crime must all be proven beyond a reasonable doubt under this punitive article to be convicted of a general threat:
- The accused individual communicated language expressing present determination or intent to injure the person, property, or reputation of a person, either presently or in the future
- The communicated threat was made known to the person threatened or to a third party person
- and, The communicated threats were wrongful
Elements for Threat to Use Explosive
The following elements of the crime must all be proven beyond a reasonable doubt under this punitive article to be convicted of a threat to use explosive:
The accused individual communicated certain language that:
- the information communicated amounted to a threat
- the information communicated or converted concerned an attempt being made or to be made by means of explosives, weapons of mass destruction, biological or chemical agents, substances, or weapons and hazardous materials to unlawfully kill, injure or damage or destroy a person
- and, The communication was wrongful
Elements for All False Threats
The following elements of the crime must all be proven beyond a reasonable doubt under this punitive article to be convicted of a false threat concerning the use of explosives, etc.:
The accused individual communicated or conveyed certain information or language that constitutes a threat
- the harm threatened was to be done by means of an explosive, the weapon of mass destruction, biological or chemical agent, substance, or weapon, or hazardous material
- the information communicated or conveyed by the accused was false, and they knew it to be false
- and, The communication of the information was malicious
EXPLANATION OF THE ELEMENTS OF CRIME
A "threat" means an expressed determination or intent to kill or injure a person, or to damage or destroy certain property either presently or in the future.
The language and communication used to express the threat must be understood by a reasonable person as a determination or intent to wrongfully injure the person, property, or reputation of a person either currently or in the future. There is no requirement for proof that the accused actually intended to kill, harm, or destroy.
The communication is said to be "wrongful" if the accused conveyed the information with the purpose of threatening someone or with the understanding that what they are saying may be viewed as a threat. Communication is not wrongful if it is made in a situation that reveals it to be in jest or for an innocent or legitimate purpose that contradicts the intent to commit the act. Communication must be wrongful to be a violation of Article 115.
Communication is malicious if the accused believed that the information would interfere with the peaceful use of the building, vehicle, or property concerned and can cause fear of or to one or more people.
An "explosive" means gunpowder, powder for blasting, blasting materials, anything fuses, detonating agents, smokeless powders, or any explosive mixture, compound, or material.
"Weapon of Mass Destruction" is any device, explosive or not, that is intended for or has the capability to cause death or injury to a large number of people with its release, dissemination, or impact.
"Biological agents" mean any microorganism that is naturally occurring or engineered that can cause death, destruction, or other biological malfunction in any living organism, or deterioration of food, water, supplies, etc.
A "chemical agent” is a toxic chemical designed to cause death or harm through toxic properties.
"Hazardous materials" are substances or materials, including explosives, radioactive material, flammable objects, and more.
MAXIMUM PUNISHMENT GRANTED UNDER ARTICLE 115
Service members who are found guilty of communicating threats or false threats are subject to maximum punishment as directed by a court-martial. In any case, the death penalty will not be awarded in such a trial, and the accused face dishonorable discharge. forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 3 years at maximum possible punishment.
Service members who are found guilty of communicating threats or false threats with the use of explosives are subject to maximum punishment as directed by a court-martial. In any case, the death penalty will not be awarded in such a trial, and the accused face dishonorable discharge. forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 10 years at maximum possible punishment.
Defense Against Article 115 Communicating Threats
If you or a loved one are being charged with Article 115 charges for Communicating Threats, you need an experienced military attorney to defend your case as soon as possible. When it comes to military defense, the faster we get all the facts, the better we can help you. Joseph L. Jordan will provide you with the legal guidance you need.
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