Proof lies on him who asserts, not on him who denies. The concept is that one is innocent until proven guilty. Regardless of what the law says about reasonable doubt, there is an unwritten presumption within the ranks of the military that if you are charged with sexual assault, then you are guilty. The stakes are your life! Your military counsel works for the same military that charged you. Consider that as you choose who represents you in your potentially life altering case.

Article 107 Making False Official Statements

This article deals with false statements made in writing or verbally by an enlisted member of the U.S. armed forces. The objective of this article is to prevent government departments/ agencies from disruption of official functions which may occur if such fraudulent practices are allowed to take place. The accused under article 107 is punished as directed by a court martial.

The elements to be proven under this article are:

  • That at a specific time and place, the accused made a certain official statement to a specific person or signed a specific official document.
  • That the statement or document was completely false or partially false in a specific manner.
  • That the accused was fully aware at the time of making the statement or signing the document that it was false.
  • That the accused intended to deceive by giving this false statement or signing the false document.

Explanation of Article 107

All documents/ statements made while on duty fall under the description of 'official statements'. Under this article, the words 'official document' can refer to a record, regulation, return, order or other official material.

The rank of the person receiving the statement is immaterial as long as he is authorized to do so. The prosecution need not prove that the accused received any monetary gain or any other benefits from making the false statement/ document. However, expectation of material gain may be used a circumstantial evidence to prove the accused had intent to mislead the receiver by making his false statement/ signing his false document.

The meaning of the word 'false' was established in United States v. Wright, 65 M.J. 373 (C.A.A.F. 2007). It was judged that a statement that is essentially true may still be false for the purpose of this article if it makes a false implication.

Making False Statements is not the same as Committing Perjury

Perjury is not the same as making false official statements because the latter may be made outside judicial hearings. Unlike perjury, materiality is not an essential element for proving an Article 107 violation.

Maximum Punishment for Violation of Article 107

The accused faces dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and five years confinement if found guilty.

Points to Note about Article 107

  • It is irrelevant whether the intended recipient was misled by the false statement. The accused has violated the article if the prosecution can prove that his intent was to mislead or give incorrect information.
  • A document is official if it pertains to government functions and its intended recipient is responsible for discharging those functions.
  • Statements made to civilian law enforcement authorities may also fall within the purview of this UCMJ article provided they bear direct relationship with the accused's military responsibilities.
  • The accused can defend himself by establishing that he truly believed that his statement was correct. The prosecution can prove otherwise by presenting circumstantial evidence during trial.

For more information on this article, please refer to the Manual for Courts Martial.

Example of Article 107 Violation

In United States v. Jackson, 26 M.J. 377 (C.M.A. 1988), the accused gave misleading information about the whereabouts of a murder suspect. This statement was given by him voluntarily to law enforcement agents. It was deemed that he had issued false official statement although it was a voluntary act on the accused's part.

In United States v. Teffeau, 58 M.J. 62 (C.A.A.F. 2003), the accused gave false statements to policemen who constituted the local civilian law enforcement authorities. His statement pertained to an automobile accident which claimed the life of a delayed-entry recruit. Since the incident as well as investigation had direct relationship to the duties of the accused, this false statement was deemed a violation of Article 107.

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