UCMJ Article 123
Offenses Concerning Government Computers
The Manual for Courts-Martial states any service member may be subject to prosecution for a violation of Article 123 if they:
- knowingly access a Government computer, with an unauthorized purpose, and by doing so obtain classified information, with reason to believe such information could be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation, and intentionally communicate, deliver, transmit, or cause to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted such information to any person not entitled to receive it;
- intentionally access a Government computer, with an unauthorized purpose, and thereby obtains classified or other protected information from any such Government computer; or
- knowingly cause the transmission of a program, information, code, or command, and as a result of such conduct, intentionally cause damage without authorization to a Government computer.
In order to be prosecuted for unauthorized distribution of classified information obtained from a Government computer, the accused must have:
- knowingly accessed a Government computer with an unauthorized purpose;
- obtained classified information;
- had reason to believe the information could be used to injure the United States or benefit a foreign nation; and
- intentionally communicated, delivered, transmitted, or caused to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted, such information to any person not entitled to receive it.
Prosecution for unauthorized access of a Government computer and obtaining classified or other protected information requires that the accused:
- intentionally accessed a Government computer with an unauthorized purpose; and
- thereby obtained classified or other protected information from any such Government computer.
Conviction for causing damage to a Government computer requires proof that the accused:
- knowingly caused the transmission of a program, information, code, or command; and
- as a result, intentionally and without authorization caused damage to a Government computer.
Understanding Article 123 (Offenses Concerning Government Computers) of the UCMJ
For the purposes of Article 123, the term computer s defined as “an electronic, magnetic, optical, electrochemical, or other high speed data processing device performing logical, arithmetic, or storage functions, and includes any data storage facility or communications facility directly related to or operating in conjunction with such device.” This includes laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
Unauthorized access refers to any form of access to a computer that is not directly authorized. This includes unauthorized access in conjunction with authorized access. Classified information is self-explanatory, but protected information refers to non-classified information and controlled information as designated by the Secretary of Defense. This includes information designated as Personally Identifiable Information (PII), Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), For Official Use Only (FOUO), Law Enforcement Sensitive (LES), Unclassified Nuclear Information (UCNI), and Limited Distribution.
Damage to a computer includes any and all impairment to the integrity or availability of data, a program, a system, or information.
Maximum Possible Punishment for Violations of Article 123
Service members convicted of a violation of Article 123 face various maximum possible punishments dependent upon the exact violation.
Those convicted of unauthorized distribution of classified information obtained from a Government computer may receive a maximum possible punishment of a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 10 years.
A conviction for unauthorized access of a Government computer and obtaining classified or other protected information may result in a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 5 years.
Causing damage to a Government computer yields 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 123 Offenses Concerning Government Computers 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 123 charges for Offenses Concerning Government Computers, 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.
View more UCMJ Articles.