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Stolen Valor: Article 106a UCMJ Wearing Unauthorized Insignia, Decoration, Badge, Ribbon, Device, Or Lapel Button

Note: This law applies only to the Stolen Valor offense of Article 106a UCMJ Wearing Unauthorized Insignia, Decoration, Badge, Ribbon, Device, Or Lapel Button offenses committed on and after 1 January 2019.

What is Stolen Valor: Article 106a UCMJ Wearing Unauthorized Insignia, Decoration, Badge, Ribbon, Device, Or Lapel Button?

Article 106a UCMJ Stolen Valor Wearing Unauthorized Insignia Decoration Badge RibbonArticle 106a of the UCMJ addresses the offense of wearing unauthorized insignia, decoration, badge, ribbon, device, or lapel button, known as Stolen Valor. This crime involves knowingly and wrongfully wearing military decorations or badges that one is not entitled to. The severity of the penalties for this offense underscores the importance of maintaining the integrity and honor of military awards and decorations.

Penalties for Stolen Valor crimes, such as wearing unauthorized insignia, can include confinement, forfeiture of pay, and a dishonorable discharge. Given these potential consequences, the accused must seek representation from the best military defense lawyers. Court-martial lawyers are essential in navigating the complexities of military law, challenging the evidence, and protecting the accused’s rights.

Hiring experienced legal counsel, such as the team at Gonzalez & Waddington, is vital for ensuring a comprehensive defense strategy. Their thorough understanding of military justice and dedication to defending service members can significantly influence the case’s outcome.

Note: The maximum and minimum punishments for Article 106a UCMJ Wearing Unauthorized Insignia, Decoration, Badge, Ribbon, Device, Or Lapel Button a Warrant, Noncommissioned, or Petty Officer vary depending on the date of the offense.

What are the Elements of Article 106a UCMJ Wearing Unauthorized Insignia, Decoration, Badge, Ribbon, Device, Or Lapel Button?

  1. That (state the time and place alleged), the accused wore upon (his) (her) (uniform) (civilian clothing) the (state the insignia, decoration, or badge alleged);
  2. That the accused was not authorized to wear the (state the insignia, decoration, or badge alleged); and
  3. That the wearing was wrongful.

What are the Maximum Punishments for Stolen Valor: Article 106a UCMJ Wearing Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, Silver Star, Purple Heart, or a valor device on any personal award?

For offenses committed between 1 January 2019 and 27 December 2023:

  • 1 Year of Confinement
  • Bad Conduct Discharge
  • Total Forfeitures
  • Reduction to E-1

For offenses committed after 27 December 2023

  •  Under the Sentencing Parameters, Article 106a UCMJ Wearing the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, Silver Star, Purple Heart, or a valor device on any personal award is a Category 1 Offense – Confinement from 0-12 months
  • Bad Conduct Discharge, Dismissal
  • Total Forfeitures
  • Reduction to E-1
  • Note: The Military Judge MAY impose a period of confinement less than the jurisdictional maximum period of confinement upon finding specific facts that warrant such a sentence. Manual for Courts-Martial, United States (2024 ed.), Appendix 12B-C

What are the Maximum Punishments for Stolen Valor: Article 106a UCMJ Wearing All Other Unauthorized Insignias, Decorations, Badges, Ribbon, Devices, Or Lapel Buttons?

For offenses committed between 1 January 2019 and 27 December 2023:

  • 6 Months of Confinement
  • Bad Conduct Discharge
  • Total Forfeitures
  • Reduction to E-1

For offenses committed after 27 December 2023

  • Under the Sentencing Parameters, Article 106a UCMJ Wearing All Other Unauthorized Insignias, Decorations, Badges, Ribbon, Devices, Or Lapel Buttons
    is a Category 1 Offense – Confinement from 0-12 months
  • Bad Conduct Discharge, Dismissal
  • Total Forfeitures
  • Reduction to E-1
  • Note: The Military Judge MAY impose a period of confinement less than the jurisdictional maximum period of confinement upon finding specific facts that warrant such a sentence. Manual for Courts-Martial, United States (2024 ed.), Appendix 12B-C

Combined UCMJ Maximum Punishment Charts

Sample Specification for Article 106a UCMJ Wearing Unauthorized Insignia, Decoration, Badge, Ribbon, Device, Or Lapel Button

In that SPC Tina Feyer, US Army, did, at or near Miami, Florida, on or about 27 December 2025, wrongfully, without authority, wear upon her uniform the Distinguished Service Cross.

Model Specification for Article 106a UCMJ Wearing Unauthorized Insignia, Decoration, Badge, Ribbon, Device, Or Lapel Button

In that __________ (personal jurisdiction data), did, (at/on board—location), on or about __________, wrongfully, without authority, wear upon (his) (her) (uniform) (civilian clothing) (the insignia or grade of a (master sergeant of __________) (chief gunner’s mate of __________)) (Combat Infantryman Badge) (the Distinguished Service Cross) (the ribbon representing the Silver Star) (the lapel button representing the Legion of Merit) (__________).

What are the Definitions for Article 106a UCMJ Wearing Unauthorized Insignia, Decoration, Badge, Ribbon, Device, Or Lapel Button?

Conduct is “wrongful” when it is done without legal justification or excuse. The wearing of an item is “wrongful” where it is intentional, and the accused knew that (he) (she) was not entitled to wear it. Actual knowledge by the accused that (he) (she) was not authorized to wear the uniform item in question is required. Knowledge may be proved by circumstantial evidence.

Wearing an item is not “unauthorized” if the circumstances reveal it to be in jest or for an innocent or legitimate purpose (for instance, as part of a costume for dramatic or other reasons or for legitimate law enforcement activities).

Article 106a UCMJ Wearing Unauthorized Insignia, Decoration, Badge, Ribbon, Device, Or Lapel Button Military Defense Lawyers

If you are suspected or accused of a Stolen Valor officense under Article 106a UCMJ Wearing Unauthorized Insignia, Decoration, Badge, Ribbon, Device, Or Lapel Button, speak with one of our experienced military court martial lawyers to discuss your case.

Introduction to Article 106a UCMJ: Wearing Unauthorized Insignia, Decoration, Badge, or Ribbon

Article 106a of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) addresses the offense of wearing unauthorized insignia, decorations, badges, or ribbons. This article is crucial in maintaining the integrity and honor of military awards and decorations, ensuring that only those who have earned such distinctions wear them.

Background of the Stolen Valor Law

The UCMJ is a comprehensive set of laws that govern the conduct of all United States Armed Forces members. Article 106a, Stolen Valor, was established to preserve the sanctity and respect of military awards. Unauthorized wearing of military decorations undermines the honor of those who have legitimately earned them and can erode trust within the ranks.

Basics of Article 106a UCMJ Stolen Valor Wearing Unauthorized Insignia Decoration Badge Ribbon

To secure a Stolen Valor conviction under Article 106a for wearing unauthorized insignia, decorations, badges, or ribbons, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Unauthorized Wearing: The accused wore an insignia, decoration, badge, or ribbon.
  • Lack of Authorization: The accused was not authorized to wear the insignia, decoration, badge, or ribbon.
  • Knowledge: The accused knew they were not authorized to wear the insignia, decoration, badge, or ribbon.

Collateral Consequences of a Stolen Valor Conviction

A Stolen Valor conviction under Article 106a can have several collateral consequences, impacting the service member’s personal and professional life. These consequences include:

  • Loss of Military Benefits: Depending on the nature of the discharge, a convicted service member may lose eligibility for retirement benefits, VA benefits, and other military-related advantages.
  • Employment Difficulties: A conviction and the associated discharge status can make it challenging to find civilian employment, particularly in fields that value integrity and honor, such as law enforcement or government positions.
  • Reputation Damage: The social stigma associated with a conviction for wearing unauthorized insignia can damage relationships and cause a loss of respect within the community.

Purpose of Article 106a UCMJ Stolen Valor Wearing Unauthorized Insignia Decoration Badge Ribbon

The primary purpose of Article 106a is to maintain the integrity and respect of military decorations and awards. By penalizing the unauthorized wearing of these symbols, the military ensures that they remain a true reflection of service, bravery, and dedication. The law serves to:

  • Protect the Honor of Earned Awards: Ensure that only legitimately earned military decorations can wear them, preserving their significance and value.
  • Uphold Military Discipline: Maintain high standards of conduct and integrity within the ranks, essential for effective military operations and cohesion.
  • Deterrence: Deter service members from attempting to falsely represent themselves through the unauthorized wearing of insignia, decorations, badges, or ribbons.

Enforcement and Investigation of Article 106a UCMJ Stolen Valor Wearing Unauthorized Insignia Decoration Badge Ribbon

Enforcement of Article 106a involves thorough investigation and evidence collection. Investigators must establish that the accused knowingly wore unauthorized insignia, decorations, badges, or ribbons and were fully aware of their lack of authorization. This process may include:

  • Reviewing military records and personnel files to verify the legitimacy of claimed awards.
  • Interviewing witnesses and other service members who may know the accused’s actions.
  • Collecting physical evidence, such as photographs or official documents, that show the accused wearing the unauthorized items.

Article 106a UCMJ Stolen Valor Wearing Unauthorized Insignia Decoration Badge Ribbon Case Examples

Several notable cases have involved service members prosecuted under Article 106a for wearing unauthorized insignia. These cases highlight the seriousness with which the military treats such offenses and the importance of upholding the integrity of military awards.

  • In one case, a service member was found guilty of wearing a valor award that they had not earned, which resulted in a sentence of confinement and a reduction in rank.
  • Another case involved a service member who wore multiple unauthorized decorations to gain promotions and other personal benefits, resulting in a dishonorable discharge and significant confinement time.

Legal Defenses to Article 106a UCMJ Stolen Valor Wearing Unauthorized Insignia Decoration Badge Ribbon

Potential defenses can be raised in response to charges under Article 106a, Stolen Valor. These defenses may include:

  • Mistake of Fact: The accused genuinely believed they were authorized to wear the insignia, decoration, badge, or ribbon due to administrative errors or misinformation.
  • Lack of Knowledge: The accused was unaware they were wearing unauthorized items, possibly due to mix-ups in their personal belongings or uniform items.
  • Authorization: The accused had received informal or temporary authorization to wear the items in question, though such defenses may require substantial evidence.

Conclusion on Stolen Valor and Article 106a UCMJ

Article 106a UCMJ vitally preserves the honor and integrity of military awards and decorations. Unauthorized wearing of these symbols disrespects those who have earned them and undermines military discipline and cohesion. A conviction under this article has severe consequences, encompassing immediate penalties and long-term collateral impacts on the individual’s career and personal life.

For more detailed information on military law and the UCMJ, visit the official Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) website.

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