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Article 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat

Facing a court-martial, UCMJ action, Administrative Separation Board, or other Adverse Administrative Action for Article 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat? Call our experienced military defense lawyers at 1-800-921-8607 for a free consultation.

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Note: This law applies only to the Article 115 UCMJ offense of Communicating a Threat committed on and after 1 January 2019.

What is Article 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat?

AArticle 115 Ucmj Communicating A Threatrticle 115 of the UCMJ addresses the crime of communicating a threat, which involves intentionally threatening to harm someone or cause damage using any means, including explosive devices. The military takes such threats seriously due to their potential to incite fear and disrupt operations. Manual for Courts-Martial, United States (2024 ed.)

Under Article 115 UCMJ, the penalties for communicating a threat are severe, including confinement, dishonorable discharge, and forfeiture of pay. These serious consequences underscore the importance of securing representation from the best military defense lawyers.

Court martial lawyers are vital in defending against these charges. They can navigate the complexities of military law, challenge the evidence, and ensure the accused’s rights are protected. A skilled defense can significantly impact the case outcome, potentially reducing the severity of penalties.

For those facing charges under Article 115 UCMJ, engaging experienced court martial lawyers like those at Gonzalez & Waddington is crucial. Their deep understanding of military justice and proven track record in defending service members ensure a comprehensive and effective defense strategy, addressing every aspect of the case to achieve

the best possible outcome.

Note: The maximum and minimum punishments for Article 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat vary depending on the date of the offense.

What are the Elements of Article 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat?

  1. That (state the time and place alleged) the accused communicated certain language, to wit: (state the language alleged), or words to that effect, expressing a present determination or intent to injure the person, property, or reputation of (state the name of the person alleged), presently or in the future;
  2. That the communication was made known to (state the name of the person threatened, or a third person, as alleged); and
  3. That the communication was wrongful.

What are the Maximum Punishments for Article 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat?

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

  • 3 Years of Confinement
  • Dishonorable Discharge, Bad Conduct Discharge, Dismissal
  • Total Forfeitures
  • Reduction to E-1

For offenses committed after 27 December 2023

  • Under the Sentencing Parameters, Article 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat is a Category 2 Offense – Confinement from 1-36 months (1 month to 3 years)
  • Dishonorable Discharge, 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 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat

In that Major James Dillwiddy, US Marine Corps, did, at or near Okinawa, Japan, on or about 22 May 2025, wrongfully communicate to Osana Hikoku a threat to injure Osana Hikoku by beat her to a bloody pulp.

Model Specification for Article 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat

In that __________ (personal jurisdiction data), did, (at/on board—location), on or about __________, wrongfully communicate to __________ a threat (to injure __________ by __________) (to accuse __________ of having committed the offense of __________) (__________).

What are the Definitions for Article 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat?

A “threat” means an expressed present determination or intent to kill or injure a person or to damage or destroy certain property presently or in the future. The communication must be one that a reasonable person would understand as expressing a present determination or intent to wrongfully injure the person, property, or reputation of another person, presently or in the future. Proof that the accused actually intended to kill, injure, damage or destroy is not required.

A communication is “wrongful” if the accused transmitted it for the purpose of issuing a threat or with the knowledge that it would be viewed as a threat.

A communication is not “wrongful” if it is made under circumstances that reveal it to be in jest or for an innocent or legitimate purpose that contradicts the expressed intent to commit the act.

In general. This offense requires both an objective expression of intent (that is, the first element) and a subjective intent by the accused (contained in the element of wrongfulness). Thus, the offense is not committed by only the objective expression of intent to commit an unlawful act involving injury to another. Additionally, even if accompanied by the required subjective intent, the offense is not committed by the objective expression of intent to commit an unlawful act not involving injury to another.

Wrongfulness in an Article 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat cases

“Wrongfulness” is properly understood to reference the accused’s subjective intent. If the evidence raises a “legitimate purpose” for the statement (which would negate “wrongfulness”), the military judge must, sua sponte, instruct carefully and comprehensively on the issue. For example, if the evidence reasonably raises that the accused made the communication in self-defense or in defense of property, the military judge must, sua sponte, give the appropriately tailored self-defense or defense of property instructions.

Legal References for Article 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat:

  • Defense of property and self-defense negate wrongfulness: See US v Viers, 75 MJ 554 (ACCA 2015).
  • Mens rea: See US v. Elonis, 135 S.Ct. 2001 (2015) and US v. Rapert, 75 MJ 164 (CAAF 2016).

Article 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat – Military Defense Lawyers

If you are suspected or accused of Article 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat, speak with one of our experienced military court martial lawyers to discuss your case.

Introduction to Article 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat

Article 115 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) addresses the offense of communicating a threat. This provision is crucial for maintaining good order and discipline within the military. It criminalizes the act of conveying threats that can undermine the stability and operational effectiveness of military units. Understanding the elements, potential punishments, and broader implications of this offense is essential for service members.

Basics of Article 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat

To secure a conviction under Article 115 for communicating a threat, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Communication: The accused communicated certain language to another person. This communication can be verbal, written, or conveyed through electronic means.
  • Nature of the Threat: The language used constituted a threat. A threat is defined as an expression of an intention to inflict harm or injury on another person, which can be direct or implied.
  • Reasonable Fear: The communication was made under circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to fear that the threat would be carried out. This fear must be objectively reasonable under the circumstances.
  • Intent: The accused intended the communication to be perceived as a threat or knew that it would be reasonably perceived as such.

Collateral Consequences of an Article 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat Conviction

A conviction for communicating a threat under Article 115 carries numerous collateral consequences beyond the immediate penalties imposed by the court-martial. These include:

  • Employment Challenges: Many employers are hesitant to hire individuals with a dishonorable discharge or a conviction for a violent offense, limiting post-military career opportunities.
  • Loss of Benefits: Convicted individuals may lose military benefits, including retirement pay, healthcare, and education benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
  • Social Stigma: The social stigma associated with a military conviction can lead to ostracism from both military and civilian communities, affecting personal relationships and social networks.
  • Civic Disqualifications: Felony convictions can result in the loss of voting rights, the inability to serve on juries, and restrictions on owning firearms, affecting the individual’s participation in civic life.
  • Professional Licensing: Certain professions require clean records for licensing. A conviction can bar individuals from obtaining necessary certifications and licenses, impacting careers in law, medicine, and education.

Impact on Mental and Emotional Health of Article 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat

A conviction’s mental and emotional toll for communicating a threat can be significant. Service members may experience stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues as a result of their conviction and its consequences.

  • Family Strain: The strain on family relationships can be profound, leading to marital issues, estrangement from children, and other familial conflicts.
  • Social Isolation: The stigma associated with a court-martial conviction can lead to social isolation and difficulties in maintaining friendships and social networks.
  • Identity Crisis: For many service members, their military identity is a core part of their self-concept. A conviction can lead to an identity crisis and loss of self-esteem.

Defenses to Article 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat

Several defenses can be raised against a charge of communicating a threat under Article 115. These defenses include:

  • Lack of Intent: If the accused did not intend the communication to be perceived as a threat, this can be a valid defense. Intent is a crucial element of the offense.
  • Ambiguity of Language: If the language used is ambiguous and could reasonably be interpreted as non-threatening, this can undermine the prosecution’s case.
  • Reasonable Person Standard: The threat must be such that a reasonable person would perceive it as a genuine threat of harm. If it is unreasonable, the perceived threat may not meet the legal threshold.
  • Protected Speech: In some cases, the defense may argue that the communication was protected speech under the First Amendment. However, this is a complex and often challenging defense in a military context.

Preventive Measures for Article 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat

Service members can take several preventive measures to avoid accusations of communicating a threat. These include:

  • Effective Communication: Being mindful of language and ensuring that communications, whether verbal, written, or electronic, are clear and non-threatening.
  • Conflict Resolution: Utilizing appropriate resolution techniques to address disputes and disagreements without threats or intimidation.
  • Awareness Training: Participating in training programs focusing on effective communication, anger management, and understanding the implications of threats.

Article 115 UCMJ Communicating a Threat Court Martial Defense Lawyers

Article 115 UCMJ’s provision on communicating a threat is designed to maintain discipline and order within the military by addressing behaviors that can undermine unit cohesion and operational effectiveness. A conviction has severe consequences, impacting a service member’s career, financial stability, and personal life. Service members must understand the gravity of this offense and take proactive steps to prevent misunderstandings and disputes that could lead to accusations of communicating a threat.

For more information on military law and the UCMJ, visit the official Joint Service Committee on Military Justice website.

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