UCMJ Article 96
Release of prisoner without authority; drinking with prisoner
The MCM states under Article 96 any service member may be subject to prosecution if they release a prisoner without authority, allow for the escape of a prisoner through neglect or design, or drink alcoholic beverages with a prisoner.
In order to be prosecuted for releasing a prisoner without authority, the prosecution must demonstrate the released person was, in fact, a prisoner and the accused released the prisoner without proper authority.
The accused may be prosecuted for allowing a prisoner to escape through neglect if it can be proven that the escaped person was a lawful prisoner, the prisoner escaped, and the accused failed to take reasonable precautions within their lawful capacity to prevent said escape.
Allowing a prisoner to escape through design may be charged if the person was a prisoner, the design of the accused was to intentionally allow the prisoner to escape, and the prisoner escaped as a direct result of the design of the accused.
Drinking with a prisoner is also a punishable offense, however the person with whom the accused was drinking must have been a lawful prisoner at the time, and the beverages consumed had to have been alcoholic in nature.
Understanding Article 96 (Release of prisoner without authority; drinking with prisoner) of the UCMJ
A prisoner is anyone who is in confinement, custody, or under sentence of a court martial. The release of the prisoner can only occur if the removal of restraints was conducted by the accused, not the prisoner. Normally, the lowest authority permitted to order the release of a prisoner is that of the commander who convened the prisoner’s court martial or the officer exercising general court martial jurisdiction over the prisoner.
“Allowing a prisoner to escape” means the accused did not act to forbid or hinder the escape. When this occurs through neglect, it is normally a result of a lack of conduct taken by the accused. However, the term “neglect” is relative and may be based on what is held to be reasonable under the circumstances. “Escape” refers to the prisoner freeing themselves from confinement before being released by the proper authority. The status of the prisoner after the escape occurs may not be used as a defense.
“Allowing a prison to escape through design” means the accused intentionally engaged in behavior that allowed for the prisoner to escape. Intent may be demonstrated through actions of the accused that lacked the level of care or responsibility necessary of their position and results in a reasonable inference that the accused intended for the escape to occur.
Drinking alcoholic beverages with a prisoner is deemed unlawful unless the accused had been granted the specific authority to do so, by a competent authority.
Maximum Possible Punishment for Violations of Article 96
The maximum possible punishment for releasing a prisoner without authority includes a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 2 years.
The maximum possible punishment for allowing a prisoner to escape through neglect includes a bad-conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 2 years.
The maximum possible punishment for allowing a prisoner to escape through design is a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 5 years.
The maximum possible punishment for drinking with a prisoner includes confinement for 1 year and forfeiture of 2/3 pay per month for 1 year.
How do you defend against Article 96 Release of prisoner without authority; drinking with prisoner 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 96 charges for Release of a Prisoner Without Authority; Drinking with Prisoner charges, you need to speak with a Military defense attorney right away. Please call Crisp and Associates Military at 888-258-1653 for a free consultation.
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