UCMJ Article 119b
The Manual for Courts-Martial states any service member may be subject to prosecution if they have a duty for the care of a child under the age of 16 years and who, through design or negligence, endanger the child’s mental health, physical health, safety, or welfare.
In order to be prosecuted for child endangerment, the prosecution must demonstrate:
- the accused had a duty for the care of a certain child;
- the child was under the age of 16 years; and
- the accused endangered the child’s mental or physical health, safety, or welfare through design or culpable negligence.
Understanding Article 119b (Child Endangerment) of the UCMJ
For the purposes of this article, design means intentional or according to a plan. Meaning, there was a specific intent to endanger the child.
Culpable negligence is greater than simple negligence. It is an act of neglect that includes a willful disregard for the foreseeable consequences to others as a direct result of the act of neglect. Culpable negligence may include acts that, when viewed in the light of human experience, might foreseeably result in harm to a child. The age and maturity of the child, the conditions surrounding the neglectful conduct, the proximity of assistance available, the nature of the environment in which the child may have been left, the provisions made for care of the child, and the location of the parent or adult responsible for the child relative to the location of the child, among others, may be considered in determining whether the conduct constituted culpable negligence.
While this offense may be committed against any child under 16, the age of the victim is a factor in the culpable negligence determination. Leaving a teenager alone for an evening may not be culpable (or even simple) negligence; leaving an infant or toddler for the same period might constitute culpable negligence. On the other hand, leaving a teenager without supervision for an extended period while the accused was on temporary duty outside commuting distance might constitute culpable negligence.
When determining harm, actual physical or mental harm to the child is not a requirement. If the accused’s actions could have reasonably resulted in the physical harm, mental harm, or suffering of the child. If, however, actual harm is a result, the potential maximum punishment increases.
To endanger, is to subject the child to a reasonable probability of harm.
The duty for the care of a child is determined by the totality of the circumstances and may be established by statute, regulation, legal parent-child relationship, mutual agreement, or assumption of control or custody by affirmative act. When there is no duty of care of a child, there is no offense under this article.
Maximum Possible Punishment for Violations of Article 119b
The maximum possible punishment for violation of Article 119b varies depending on the specific charge.
Endangerment by design resulting in grievous bodily harm may result in a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 8 years.
Endangerment by design resulting in harm may result in a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 5 years.
Other cases by design may result in a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and confinement for 4 years.
Endangerment by culpable negligence resulting in grievous bodily harm may result in a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 3 years.
Endangerment by culpable negligence resulting in harm may result in a bad-conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 2 years.
Other cases by culpable negligence may result in a bad-conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 1 year.
How do you defend against Article 119b Child Endangerment 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 119b charges for Child Endangerment, 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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