UCMJ Article 105: Misconduct of a Prisoner - Bilecki Law Group, PLLC (2024)

At Bilecki Law Group, we defend service members from charges of Forgery under Article 105 of the UCMJ. We take the fight to the heart of the military justice system and we take the cases others are too scared to touch.

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What is Article 105 Of The UCMJ?

Article 105 of the UCMJ covers a range of behaviors and misconduct related to forgery. This includes making or altering a signature that if genuine, would impose or change another’s legal liabilities or rights. For example, forging the signature on a check that would then obligate others to pay money.

The mere act of forging the signature is its own charge and the process of uttering or offering that forgery is a separate charge. Thus, a service member could be found guilty of signing a check, even if that check was never uttered or offered to another.

There are additional charges for making, altering, counterfeiting, or tampering with a false or unauthorized pass as well as, using that pass. Here, there are serious penalties for both the one who created and/or sold/gifted/loaned the illicit pass and the one that actually used the pass. On every occasion, the military justice system takes forgery charges under Article 105 seriously and you would do well to get ready for a fight if those charges are coming your way.

UCMJ Article 105: Misconduct of a Prisoner - Bilecki Law Group, PLLC (1)

What Charges Are Possible Under Article 105 Of The UCMJ?

Forgery charges under Article 105 can get very specific and as such, we’ll take them directly from the UCMJ. What you need to know upfront is that forgery charges almost always fall under what we call, the Blue Falcon category of charges. That’s because it almost always involves a buddy and when that buddy gets busted on his own accord, he points you out to drag you down with him. That’s true even if your involvement was minimal.

He begged and pleaded for you to give him an unauthorized pass so he could get lucky this weekend and you gave in. Then, he gets busted in some bar fight in Oceanside and blames you for the whole thing. To make matters worse, he likely didn’t even get any action. It’s a scenario that you could mix and match for every occasion of forgery and truthfully, it doesn’t matter what side you are on. All you need to know is the military justice system is coming for both of you and they’ll charge you with one or more of the below charges.

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Forgery Making or Altering – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following three elements:

(1) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused falsely (made) (altered) a certain [(signature to a) (check) (writing) ] [part of a (check) (writing), to wit: (describe the signature, part of a writing, or writing allegedly falsely made or altered).

(2) That the (signature) (check) (writing) was of a nature which would, if genuine, apparently (impose a legal liability on another) (or) (change another’s legal rights or liabilities to his/her prejudice) (in that (here, if alleged, set forth the manner in which the legal status of another could be or was allegedly harmed)).

(3) That the accused (made) (altered) the false (signature) (check) (writing) with the intent to defraud.

Maximum Punishment: Dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 5 years confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.

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Forgery Uttering –For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy teh following five elements:

(1) That a certain [signature to a (check) (writing) [part of a (check) (writing)] [(check) (writing) was falsely (made) (altered), to wit: (describe the signature, part of a writing, or writing allegedly falsely made or altered).

(2) That the (signature) (check) (writing) was of a nature which would, if genuine, apparently impose a legal liability on another or change another’s legal rights or liabilities to that person’s prejudice [in that (here, if alleged, set forth the manner in which the legal status of another could be or was allegedly harmed)].

(3) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused (uttered) (offered) (issued) (transferred) this (signature) (check) (writing) (__________).

(4) That, at such time, the accused knew that the (signature) (check) (writing) had been falsely (made) (altered).

(5) That the accused (uttered) (offered) (issued) (transferred) the (signature) (check) (writing) with the intent to defraud.

Maximum Punishment: Dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 5 years confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.

False or Unauthorized Pass – Making, Altering, Counterfeiting, Tampering – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy only two elements:

(1) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused wrongfully and falsely (made) (altered by (counterfeited) (tampered with by a military or official (pass) (permit) (discharge certificate) (identification card), to wit: (state the terms of the instrument as alleged).

(2) That the accused then knew that the (permit) (pass) (discharge certificate) (identification card) was false.

Maximum Punishment: Dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 3 years confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.

False or Unauthorized Pass – Wrongful Sale, Gift, or Loan – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following three elements:

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(1) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused wrongfully [(sold) (gave) (loaned) to (state the name of the person alleged)] [disposed of by (state the manner alleged)] a military or official (pass) (permit) (discharge certificate) (identification card), to wit: (state the terms of the instrument alleged).

(2) That the (pass) (permit) (discharge certificate) (identification card) was (false) (or) (unauthorized).

(3) That the accused then knew that the (pass) (permit) (discharge certificate) (identification card) was (false) (or) (unauthorized).

Maximum Punishment: Sale – Dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 3 years confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.

Giving, Loaning, disposing – Bad conduct discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 6 months confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.

Wrongful Use Or Possession Of False Or Unauthorized Pass – For a service member to be found guilty, the prosecution must satisfy the following three elements and a fourth if there is intent to defraud:

(1) Thatthe accused wrongfully (used) (possessed) a military or official (pass) (permit) (discharge certificate) (identification card), to wit: (state the terms of the instrument as alleged).

(2) That the (pass) (permit) (discharge certificate) (identification card) was (false) (or) (unauthorized).

(3) That the accused then knew that the (pass) (permit) (discharge certificate) (identification card) was (false) (or) (unauthorized).

[(4)] That the accused (used) (possessed) the (pass) (permit) (discharge certificate) (identification card) with an intent to (defraud) (or) (deceive).

Maximum Punishment: With intent to defraud – Dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 3 years confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.

Other cases – Bad conduct discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, 6 months confinement and reduction in rank to E-1.

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Can I Fight Article 105 Charges If Military Investigators Have Proof?

Hell yes you can fight and our vast experience lets us know that they are almost always hiding the fact that they have less evidence than they want. Remember, there is a big difference in the max punishment for selling an unauthorized pass and gifting one. That Big Chicken Dinner is much more preferable than a Dishonorable Discharge and six months in military prison is a hell of a lot less than 3 years. However, you have to fight back if you are going to secure the best possible outcome for yourself.

Military investigators are terribly sloppy in their work and they are so consumed with finding proof of guilt, they often go about the wrong way of getting that “proof.” We’ll backtrack that investigation with one of our own and make sure they really have evidence before trying to hit you with the most severe charge.

If it is your buddy playing the role of Blue Falcon, they’re going to squeeze him for all its worth to get the max charge for you. We understand this and we’ll have you prepared to answer every question. Unfortunately, because these charges often involve a signature or some other documented evidence, service members just assume they are screwed and give up. You can fight and beat these charges, even if you did make a mistake.

The truth is that the military culture romanticizes a little unauthorized shore leave and rebel rousing as tradition. That’s why you can talk to the Lance Corporal underground on any Marine Corps base and they’ll know a guy who can forge anything. It’s a shame when a young Marine tries to do what his grizzled Sergeant Major bragged about back in his day and then have Command try to ruin that young Marine’s life when he is caught.

If you are facing charges of Forgery in any degree under Article 105, you need to get ready for a fight. The military justice system is going to come at you with everything they have just to make an example out of you in order to scare others into compliance. Don’t let them. Fight back and make yourself a harder target than the next guy so they can make an example out of him. If you’re lucky, that other guy might even be the Blue Falcon that got you into this mess in the first place. Give us a call and we’ll give you a free consultation. Together, we’ll fight back and take the fight to them.

More Punitive Articles

  • Article 104: Destroying Public Records
  • Article 106: Spies
  • UCMJ Article About False Official Statements
  • Article 134 UCMJ
  • UCMJ Adultery Article

Don’t just plead guilty… Fight Back !

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UCMJ Article 105: Misconduct of a Prisoner - Bilecki Law Group, PLLC (2024)

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