UCMJ Article 105
The MCM states any service member may be subject to prosecution under Article 105 (Forgery) if they, with intent to defraud:
- falsely make or alter any signature to, or any part of, any writing which would, if genuine, apparently impose a legal liability on another or change his legal right or liability to his prejudice; or
- utter, offer, issue, or transfer such a writing, known by him to be so made or altered.
In order to be prosecuted for forgery, specifically referring to the making or altering, the prosecution must demonstrate:
- the accused falsely made or altered a certain signature or writing;
- the signature or writing was of a nature which would, if genuine, apparently impose a legal liability on another or change another’s legal rights or liabilities to that person’s prejudice; and
- the false making or altering was with the intent to defraud.
A charge of forgery-uttering, must prove:
- a certain signature or writing was falsely made or altered;
- the signature or writing was of a nature which would, if genuine, apparently impose a legal liability on another or change another’s legal rights or liabilities to that person’s prejudice;
- the accused uttered, offered, issued, or transferred the signature or writing;
- at such time the accused knew that the signature or writing had been falsely made or altered; and
- the uttering, offering, issuing or transferring was with the intent to defraud.
Understanding Article 105 (Forgery) of the UCMJ
Forgery may be committed either by falsely making a writing or by knowingly uttering a falsely made writing. There are three elements common to both aspects of forgery: a writing falsely made or altered; an apparent capability of the writing as falsely made or altered to impose a legal liability on another or to change another’s legal rights or liabilities to that person’s prejudice; and an intent to defraud.
The intent to defraud need not be directed toward anyone in particular, nor be for the advantage of the offender. It is irrelevant if no one was actually defrauded, or that no further step was made toward carrying out the intent to defraud other than the false making or altering of a writing.
False does not refer to the contents of the written information or the facts it may or may not contain, but rather to the act of making or altering the contents. Signing the name of another to an instrument having apparent legal value without authority, and with the intent to defraud, is forgery as the signature is falsely made.
The nature of the writing is important when determining if a charge of forgery is applicable. The writing must be one which would, if genuine, apparently impose a legal liability on another, or change that person’s legal rights or liabilities. A writing falsely “made” includes an instrument that may be partially or entirely printed, engraved, written with a pencil, or made by photography or other device. A writing may be falsely “made” by materially altering an existing writing, by filling in a paper signed in blank, or by signing an instrument already written. With respect to the apparent legal efficacy of the writing falsely made or altered, the writing must appear either on its face or from extrinsic facts to impose a legal liability on another, or to change a legal right or liability to the prejudice of another. The alteration must effect a material change in the legal tenor of the writing. Thus, an alteration which apparently increases, diminishes, or discharges any obligation is material.
Maximum Possible Punishment for Violations of Article 105
Service members convicted of an Article 85 violation face a maximum punishment of dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and forced confinement of up to 5 years.
How do you defend against Article 105 Forgery charges?
When you are facing the combined resources of the military as well as the current cultural climate, you need to be prepared to defend your career and your freedom. Crisp and Associates, LLC has a team of experienced trial attorneys who have won these cases. This team includes the firm’s founder, Jonathan Crisp, a highly respected former Army JAG with over 17 years of experience in military law and a sought-after speaker and lecturer on military law. In 2015 the firm recruited R. Davis Younts, a former prosecutor who was the number one rated Senior Defense Counsel in the Air Force and has taught at the Army and Air Force JAG Schools and successfully achieved acquittals in multiple rape, sexual assault, and sexual contact cases in courts-martial in multiple branches of the service.
If you or someone you know is facing Article 105 charges for Forgery, you need to speak with a Military defense attorney right away. Please call Crisp and Associates Military at 888-347-1514 for a free consultation.
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