Article 108 (UCMJ): A Simple Guide

army soldier standing with a gun in his hand

If you’re part of the US military, you’re probably aware of the significance of the UCMJ. Formally known as the Uniform Code of Military Justice, UCMJ is a federal law that defines the military justice system and details the offenses under military law.

This article will focus on Article 108, a portion of the UCMJ integral to the ‘Loss, Damage, Destruction, or Wrongful Military Property.’ What does this mean, and why should service members familiarize themselves with this UCMJ article? We’ll focus on the implications of UCMJ Article 108 and more.

What Is Article 108 of the UCMJ?

UCMJ Article 108 covers the majority of property offenses within the US military. These offenses cover selling, wrongfully disposing of, damaging, destroying, losing, failing to secure, or failing to report and deal with captured property. Article 108, alongside the other articles of the UCMJ, was established in 1950 to develop uniform procedures among the service branches.

According to Article 108, military property covers all property, personal or real, owned, held, or used by a US Armed Forces branch. Military property isn’t to be interchanged with government property because while all military property is technically government property, not all government property is owned the the US military. Moreover, merchandise sold in the Service Exchange stores isn’t regarded as military property under Article 108.

Meanwhile, ‘suffer’ in ‘suffering military property’ equates to allowing or permitting an action. The accused party must’ve allowed an incident on the property because of negligence, recklessness, irresponsibility, or a willful and deliberate violation of a specific law or order.

As per this Article, value and damage may vary and are determined by calculating the damage amount and the estimated or total repair cost by the government agency usually employed in relevant work. The property value controls the maximum penalties in case of loss, destruction, sale, or wrongful disposition.

Regarding firearm or explosive, the term firearm is straightforward, while explosive refers to explosive materials and includes ammunition.

What Are the Offenses Covered Under Article 108?

The UCMJ Article 108 covers various incidents, including the following:

The sale or the disposing of military property. The incident must contain the following elements for it to be covered by Article 108:

  • At a specific time and place, the accused sold or wrongfully disposed of a specific property of the United States in a particular manner.
  • The accused was not authorized to conduct the transaction above.
  • The prosecution must prove that the property was a firearm or explosive; otherwise, the prosecution must prove that the property had a specific value.

Damage, destruction, or wrongful disposition of military property. Elements of the incident should include the following:

  • Despite lacking the proper authority, the accused party, at a specific time and place, damaged military property in a particular manner, caused an incident of losing military property, or destroyed the property in a particular way.
  • This was US military property.
  • That the damaging, destroying, or losing was deliberately caused or caused by neglect on the part of the accused
  • Where applicable, the prosecution must establish that the property was an explosive or firearm; otherwise, the property had a specific value.

Suffering military property. The incident elements should include the following:

  • At a specific place and time, a specific person destroyed, sold, or wrongfully disposed of a particular property.
  • This incident involved US military property.
  • The accused, who didn’t have proper authority, made this possible due to an omission of his duty.
  • That this certain omission was deliberate or caused by neglect.
  • The prosecution must prove that the property was an explosive or firearm; otherwise, the property had a specific value.

Penalties and Consequences for Losing Military Property and More

american flag with handcuffs and gavel

The maximum punishment for offenses under Article 108 depends on the severity of the crime. Not all cases may warrant a court-martial, but considering the estimated or actual cost of the damages made, it may be possible.

Possible penalties include a maximum sentence of one-year confinement, forfeiture of all allowance and pay, and a bad conduct discharge. This is provided that the property involved in the incident is less than or equal to $500. Meanwhile, the maximum penalties for property, explosives, or firearms worth over $500 include forfeiture of all allowances and pay, ten-year confinement, and a dishonorable discharge.

The Manual for Courts-Martial details the possible penalties for each offense under Article 108. It should be noted that while a case that violates Article 108 may warrant a court-martial, not all instances require one for the sentence to be carried out.

How Do You Defend Charges Under Article 108 Of The UCMJ?

When a person subject to Article 108 is called, how can they control neglect damages and defend themselves? When facing the combined power of the US military and the current cultural climate, it’s best to confer with experienced military lawyers familiar with government price lists and more.

Suppose you or someone you know is under investigation or facing a court-martial because of UCMJ Article 108. In that case, you need a team of experienced military trial attorneys who have won similar cases. These legal professionals are well-versed in the UCMJ and have substantial experience dealing with the military law system.

How Article 108 Affects Military Discipline and Morale

Why is it essential to safeguard military property and respect the proper authority? Military personnel are expected to be exemplary citizens of the United States. Therefore, they should be the embodiment of discipline and respect for authority.

Article 108 promotes a sense of responsibility from all service members, and the consequences of wrongful disposition or suffering military property can be severe. Sometimes, the incident can leave an indelible mark on people’s careers.

However, there may be incidents wherein the person subject to possible penalties is innocent. This is why the military has designed a strict yet fair disciplinary system that upholds the integrity of its members.

Conclusion

a photo of a gavel

Being involved in the damage, destruction, or wrongful disposition of military property can have severe repercussions. That’s why service members should understand their rights. If you or someone you know are involved in incidents under Article 108, you should seek legal counsel immediately. If you wish to safeguard your personal property as an active duty service member, explore the SCRACVS website for more information.

FAQs

What is Article 108 of UCMJ?

This Article refers to the loss, damage, destruction, or wrongful disposition of military property belonging to the United States. Article 108 covers all offenses and penalties concerning military properties.

What is the UMCJ?

The UCMJ is formally known as the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The UCMJ is a federal law that defines the military justice system and details the offenses under military law.

What is the punishment of UCMJ?

The punishments under the UCMJ vary on the offense and are decided upon by the proper authority. Not all cases may warrant severe consequences.

Do US soldiers have military property rights?

US soldiers are subject to multiple legal protections, such as the SCRA, which the SCRACVS specializes in. However, their personal properties don’t count as ‘military property’ in Article 108.

Attorney Roy Kaufmann serves as the Director of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Centralized Verification Service, located in Washington, D.C. As a recognized authority on the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, Mr. Kaufmann has published hundreds of articles and hosted many webinars. His teachings help law firms and businesses to remain compliant with the SCRA rules and regulations so as to avoid costly fines.