UCMJ Article 108a
Captured or Abandoned Property
The MCM states under Article 108a (Captured or Abandoned Property) a service member is required to secure all public property taken from the enemy for the service of the United States, and shall give notice and turn over to the proper authority without delay all captured or abandoned property in their possession, custody, or control. A service member is in violation of Article 108a and subject to prosecution if they:
- fail to carry out the duties prescribed;
- buy, sell, trade, or in any way deal in or dispose of captured or abandoned property, whereby he receives or expects any profit, benefit, or advantage to himself or another directly or indirectly connected with himself; or
- engage in looting or pillaging.
In order to be prosecuted for failing to secure public property taken from the enemy, the prosecution must demonstrate:
- certain public property was taken from them enemy;
- this property was of a certain value; and
- the accused failed to do what was reasonable under the circumstances to secure this property for the service of the United States.
Failing to report and turn over captured or abandoned property may be a chargeable offense if the prosecution proves:
- certain captured or abandoned public or private property came into the possession, custody, or control of the accused;
- this property was of a certain value; and
- the accused failed to give notice of its receipt and failed to turn over to proper authority, without delay, the captured or abandoned public or private property.
Charges of dealing in captured or abandoned property requires the prosecution to demonstrate:
- the accused bought, sold, traded, or otherwise dealt in or disposed of certain public or private captured or abandoned property;
- this property was of certain value; and
- That by so doing the accused received or expected some profit, benefit, or advantage to the accused or to a certain person or persons connected directly or indirectly with the accused.
Looting and pillaging charges must prove:
- the accused engaged in looting, pillaging, or looting and pillaging by unlawfully seizing or appropriating certain public or private property;
- this property was located in enemy or occupied territory, or that it was on board a seized or captured vessel; and
- the property was:
- left behind, owned by, or in the custody of the enemy, an occupied state, an inhabitant of an occupied state, or a person under the protection of the enemy or occupied state, or who, immediately prior to the occupation of the place where the act occurred, was under the protection of the enemy or occupied state; or
- part of the equipment of a seized or captured vessel; or
- owned by, or in the custody of the officers, crew, or passengers on board a seized or captured vessel.
Understanding Article 108a (Captured or Abandoned Property) of the UCMJ
Failing to secure public property taken from the enemy applies to public property only. Every person subject to military law has an immediate duty to take steps that are reasonably within that person’s power to secure public property for the service of the United States and to protect it from destruction or loss. Immediately upon its capture from the enemy public property becomes the property of the United States. Neither the person who takes it nor any other person has any private right in this property.
Failing to report and turn over captured or abandoned property refers to the duty of all service members to report, to a proper authority, receipt of captured or abandoned property through the channels required through current regulations, orders, or the customs of the Service.
While looting and pillaging are self-explanatory, the term disposed of in dealing in captured or abandoned property adds the elements of destruction and/or abandonment to the clause.
Maximum Possible Punishment for Violations of Article 108a
Service members convicted of an Article 108a violation face a maximum punishment of a bad-conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 6 months for property valued at $1,000 or less if the specified charges were failing to secure public property taken from the enemy; failing to secure, give notice and turn over, selling, or otherwise wrongfully dealing in or disposing of captured or abandoned property. If the property was valued at over $1,000 or involved any firearm or explosive, the punishment increases to dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 5 years.
Looting or pillaging carried a maximum punishment of any punishment a court-martial may deem appropriate, excluding death.
How do you defend against Article 108a Captured or Abandoned Property 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 108a charges for Captured or Abandoned Property violations, 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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