UCMJ Article 134

UCMJ Article 121

Larceny and Wrongful Appropriation


The MCM states under Article 121 (Larceny and Wrongful Appropriation) any service member may be prosecuted if they wrongfully take, obtain, or withhold, by any means, from the possession of the owner or of any other person any money, personal property, or article of value of any kind.  The accused must have done so with the intent to permanently deprive or defraud another person of the use and benefit of property or to appropriate it to his own use or the use of any person other than the owner, steals that property and is guilty of larceny.  If the accused acted with the intent to temporarily deprive or defraud another person of the use and benefit of property or to appropriate it to his own use or the use of any person other than the owner, is guilty of wrongful appropriation.

In order to be prosecuted for larceny it must be demonstrated:

  • the accused wrongfully took, obtained, or withheld certain property from the possession of the owner or of any other person;
  • the property belonged to a certain person;
  • the property was of a certain value, or of some value; and
  • the taking, obtaining, or withholding by the accused was with the intent permanently to deprive or defraud another person of the use and benefit of the property or permanently to appropriate the property for the use of the accused or for any person other than the owner.
  • If applicable, that the property was military property.

In order to be convicted of wrongful appropriation, the prosecution must demonstrate:

  • the accused wrongfully took, obtained, or withheld certain property from the possession of the owner or of any other person;
  • the property belonged to a certain person;
  • the property was of a certain value, or of some value; and
  • the taking, obtaining, or withholding by the accused was with the intent temporarily to deprive or defraud another person of the use and benefit of the property or temporarily to appropriate the property for the use of the accused or for any person other than the owner.

 

 

Understanding Article 121 (Larceny and Wrongful Appropriation ) of the UCMJ

Larceny, in general, refers to wrongful taking with the intent to permanently deprive.  The charge of larceny includes the common law offense of larceny, obtaining by false pretense, and embezzlement. In order for larceny to be proven, the elements of taking, obtaining, or withholding the property by the thief must be present.  As a general rule, however, any movement of the property or any exercise of dominion over it is sufficient if accompanied by the requisite intent.

A withholding may arise as a result of a failure to return, account for, or deliver property to its owner when a return, accounting, or delivery is due, even if the owner has made no demand for the property, or it may arise as a result of devoting property to a use not authorized by its owner. Generally, this is so whether the person withholding the property acquired it lawfully or unlawfully. However, acts which constitute the offense of unlawfully receiving, buying, or concealing stolen property or of being an accessory after the fact are not included within the meaning of withholds. Therefore, neither a receiver of stolen property nor an accessory after the fact can be convicted of larceny on that basis alone. The taking, obtaining, or withholding must be of specific property.

The taking, obtaining, or withholding of the property must be wrongful. As a general rule, a taking or withholding of property from the possession of another is wrongful if done without the consent of the other, and an obtaining of property from the possession of another is wrongful if the obtaining is by false pretense. However, such an act is not wrongful if it is authorized by law or apparently lawful superior orders, or, generally, if done by a person who has a right to the possession of the property either equal to or greater than the right of one from whose possession the property is taken, obtained, or withheld.

With respect to obtaining property by false pretense, the false pretense may be made by means of any act, word, symbol, or token. The pretense must be in fact false when made and when the property is obtained, and it must be knowingly false in the sense that it is made without a belief in its truth. A false pretense is a false representation of past or existing fact. A larceny is committed when a person obtains the property of another by false pretense and with intent to steal, even though the owner neither intended nor was requested to part with title to the property. Thus, a person who gets another’s watch by pretending that it will be borrowed briefly and then returned, but who really intends to sell it, is guilty of larceny.

The offense of larceny requires that the taking, obtaining, or withholding by the thief be accompanied by an intent permanently to deprive or defraud another of the use and benefit of property or permanently to appropriate the property to the thief’s own use or the use of any person other than the owner. These intents are collectively called an intent to steal. Although a person gets property by a taking or obtaining which was not wrongful or which was without a concurrent intent to steal, a larceny is nevertheless committed if an intent to steal is formed after the taking or obtaining and the property is wrongfully withheld with that intent. An intent to steal may be proved by circumstantial evidence.

Motive does not negate intent.  Intent to pay for or replace the property is not a defense, neither is the return of the property.

Wrongful appropriation requires an intent to temporarily, as opposed to permanently, deprive the owner of the use and benefit of, or appropriate to the use of another, the property wrongfully taken, withheld, or obtained. In all other respects wrongful appropriation and larceny are identical.

 

Maximum Possible Punishment for Violations of Article 121

Service members convicted of violations of Article 121 face a variety of punishments that are contingent on the value of the property and on if the property was owned by the military.

Larceny involving property of a value of $1,000 or less yields a bad-conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 1 year.

Larceny involving military property of a value of more than $1,000 or of any military motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel, firearm, or explosive results in a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 10 years.

Larceny involving property other than military property of a value of more than $1,000 or any motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel, firearm, or explosive not included previously results in a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 5 years.

Wrongful appropriation involving property of a value of $1,000 or less results in confinement for 3 months, and forfeiture of two-thirds pay per month for 3 months.

Wrongful appropriation involving property of a value of more than $1,000 yields a bad-conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 1 year.

Wrongful appropriation of any motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel, firearm, explosive, or military property of a value of more than $1,000 results in a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 2 years.

 

How do you defend against Article 121 Larceny and Wrongful Appropriation 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 121 charges for Larceny and Wrongful Appropriation , 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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