Article 122 of the UCMJ deals with robbery. If an enlisted member, with the intention of stealing, takes a valuable item from the plaintiff (maybe in the presence of another person) against the plaintiff's will, using means of violence or force (for instance a firearm) or by threatening him or members of his family with injury (immediate or future), such an enlisted member will be held guilty of robbery and receive punishment through a court martial.


If an enlisted member has used a firearm to commit a robbery, the maximum punishment includes dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all allowances and pay and 15 years of confinement.

In all other cases, the maximum punishment that can be slapped on the guilty enlisted member is a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all allowances and pay and 10 years of confinement.


  • Taking the property of the victim in his presence

Whether or not the property taken was in the presence of the victim is irrelevant. For instance, if the accused enters a house and forces the victim, by issuing threats, to disclose the location of the hidden valuables in an adjoining room and on getting the information, if he ties up the owner, goes into that room and steals the valuables, we can say that the accused committed robbery.

  • Taking the property by violence or by force

The accused has used violence or force to commit a robbery if the victim has been subjected to actual violence or force before, or as the accused was taking the victim's property against his will. It is immaterial whether the victim felt fear or not.

If the accused overcame the victim's actual resistance, if he had put the victim in a position where he could not offer resistance, or if the accused overcame the resistance offered by a fastening or chain, which had attached the property to the victim, then it is an act of robbery.

It is not a robbery if the article was snatched from the victim's hands, if it was taken by stealth, if no force was used and the victim did not become fearful. But if an earring was snatched from a person's ear or the person's attention was diverted by the pickpocket's confederate who jostled him, while the pickpocket removed the victim's watch, then there is sufficient violence and it becomes an act of robbery. If a guard takes articles from the person of a prisoner after handcuffing him, supposedly to prevent the prisoner's escape, it is also included as an act of robbery.

Robbery also includes larceny

One of the elements of robbery is 'taking property, with the intention of stealing'. By this definition, larceny becomes an integral part of the act of robbery and the plaintiff's legal team will have to prove larceny.

Robbing from multiple victims

If the accused has stolen properties of different persons present at the same place and time, these are separate offenses and each of the acts will be separately specified.


A lesser offense is a charge that the court martial may find the enlisted member guilty of, even if it has held him not guilty of the original charges.

For instance, a person who has been held not guilty of robbery may be held guilty of offenses under:

  • Article 121 (larceny)
  • Article 121 (wrongful appropriation)
  • Article 128 (assault, assault that ended in battery)
  • Article 128 ( assaulting a person with a dangerous weapon)
  • Article 128 (assaulting a person with the intention to inflict grave bodily harm)
  • Article 34 (assaulting a person with the intention to rob) and
  • Article 80 (attempts)

If this happens, the court may impose the punishments given under the particular article or articles. For more information on this article, please refer to the Manual for Courts Martial.


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Joseph L. Jordan is a UCMJ lawyer who travels around the globe to represent service members in military criminal defense matters. He is an accomplished, experienced military attorney who specializes in defending ALL service members against violations of the UCMJ.