UCMJ Article 115
The Manual for Courts-Martial states under Article 115 (Communicating Threats) any service member may be prosecuted if they:
- wrongfully communicates a general threat to injure the person, property, or reputation of another;
- wrongfully communicates a threat to injure the person or property of another by use of an explosive, a weapon of mass destruction, a biological or chemical agent, substance, or weapon, or a hazardous material; or
- maliciously communicates a false threat concerning injury to the person or property of another by use of an explosive, a weapon of mass destruction, a biological or chemical agent, substance, or weapon, or a hazardous material.
In order to be convicted for a general threat, the prosecution must prove:
- that the accused communicated certain language expressing a present determination or intent to injure the person, property, or reputation of another person, presently or in the future;
- that the communication was made known to that person or to a third person; and
- that the communication was wrongful.
The accused may be convicted of a threat to use explosives if they:
- communicated certain language;
- that the information communicated amounted to a threat;
- that the harm threatened was to be done by means of an explosive; weapon of mass destruction; biological or chemical agent, substance, or weapon; or hazardous material; and
- that the communication was wrongful.
Successful prosecution for false threats concerning use of explosives, etc. requires the prosecution to demonstrate:
- that the accused communicated or conveyed certain information;
- that the information communicated or conveyed concerned an attempt being made or to be made by means of an explosive; weapon of mass destruction; biological or chemical agent, substance, or weapon; or hazardous material, to unlawfully kill, injure, or intimidate a person or to unlawfully damage or destroy certain property;
- that the information communicated or conveyed by the accused was false and that the accused then knew it to be false; and
- that the communication of the information by the accused was malicious.
Understanding Article 115 (Communicating Threats) of the UCMJ
The term threat refers to an expressed and present determination or intent to kill, injure, or intimidate a person or to damage/destroy a specific property presently or in the future. The communication must be one that a reasonable person would understand as expressing a present determination or intent to wrongfully injure the person, property, or reputation of another person, presently or in the future. Proof that the accused actually intended to kill, injure, intimidate, damage or destroy is not required.
A communication must be wrongful in order to constitute an Article 115 violation. The wrongfulness of the communication relates to the accused’s subjective intent. The accused must have made the communication for the purpose of issuing a threat or with knowledge that the communication will be viewed as a threat. If it is determined the communication was made in jest, or was legitimate or innocent in its purpose, then the communication is not deemed wrongful.
Explosive refers to any substance that used for blasting, detonators, detonating agents, smokeless powders, and any other explosive compound, mixture, or material.
Weapon of mass destruction refers to any device, explosive or otherwise, that is intended, or has the capability, to cause death or serious bodily injury to a significant number of people through the release, dissemination, or impact of: toxic or poisonous chemicals, or their precursors; a disease organism; or radiation or radioactivity.
A biological agent is any microorganism, pathogen, or infectious substance, and any naturally occurring, bioengineered, or synthesized component of any such substance, that is capable of causing:
- death, disease, or other biological malfunction in a human, an animal, a plant, or another living organism;
- deterioration of food, water, equipment, supplies, or materials of any kind; or
- deleterious alteration of the environment.
A chemical agent, substance, or weapon refers to a toxic chemical and its precursors, a munition, or a device, specifically designed to cause death or other harm through toxic properties of those chemicals that would be released as a result of the use of such munition or device, and any equipment specifically designed for use directly in connection with the use of such munitions or devices.
A hazardous material is any substance or material (including explosive, radioactive material, etiologic agent, flammable or combustible liquid or solid, poison, oxidizing or corrosive material, and compressed gas, or mixture thereof) or a group or class of material designated as hazardous by the Secretary of Transportation.
A communication is deemed malicious if the accused believed that the information would probably interfere with the peaceful use of the building, vehicle, aircraft, or other property concerned, or would cause fear or concern to one or more persons.
Maximum Possible Punishment for Violations of Article 115
Service member convicted of an Article 115 violation of communicating threats or false threats face a maximum possible punishment of a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and confinement for 3 years.
If the accused is convicted of an Article 115 violation of threats or false threats concerning the use of explosives, etc., they face a maximum possible punishment of a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and confinement for 10 years.
How do you defend against Article 115 Communicating Threats 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, with more than 75 years of combined experience, who have won these types of cases. This team includes the firm’s founder, Jonathan Crisp, a highly respected and sought-after attorney, speaker, and lecturer, who has served in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) since 1998 and entered private practice in 2007.
If you, or someone you know, is facing Article 115 charges for Communicating Threats, you need to speak with a Military defense attorney right away. We understand what is at risk, and we know how to protect your career, your freedom, and your future. Please call Crisp and Associates Military at 888-258-1653 for a free consultation.
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