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Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while Engaging in an Inherently Dangerous Act

Note: This law applies only to Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while engaging in inherently dangerous act offenses allegedly committed on or after 1 January 2019.

What is Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while engaging in an inherently dangerous act?

Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while Engaging in an Inherently Dangerous Act military defense attorneysArticle 118(3) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) addresses the grave offense of murder while engaging in an act inherently dangerous to another. This provision is crucial in the military justice system, ensuring that service members are held accountable for actions that pose significant risks to the lives of others.

Under Article 118(3), murder is defined as causing the death of another individual while partaking in behavior that is inherently dangerous and demonstrates a wanton disregard for human life. This means that the act itself carries a high probability of causing death or serious injury to anyone involved, showing reckless indifference.

An important aspect of this provision is the concept of “wanton disregard for human life.” In simpler terms, it involves a reckless and careless attitude that can foreseeably result in someone’s death. Examples could include firing a weapon blindly in a populated area or handling explosives without proper care.

Military Defense Attorneys for Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while Engaging in an Inherently Dangerous Act Cases

The penalties for a conviction under this article are severe, often leading to lengthy prison sentences, dishonorable discharge, and the stripping away of military benefits. Given the seriousness of the penalties and the complexity of the legal proceedings, it becomes imperative for anyone suspected or accused under Article 118(3) to seek experienced legal counsel promptly.

The Importance of Experienced Court Martial Lawyers

Facing a charge under Article 118(3) can be a daunting and stressful experience. The legal process is intricate and demands detailed knowledge of military law. Having skilled defense lawyers, such as the team at Gonzalez & Waddington, can make a profound difference in the outcome of your case.

Knowledgeable defense attorneys can thoroughly investigate the incident’s circumstances, challenge evidence, and provide a robust defense strategy tailored to the unique aspects of military law. They will also guide you through each step of the legal process, ensuring your rights are protected and fighting for the best possible outcome on your behalf.

If you or a loved one faces allegations under Article 118(3), do not navigate this challenging situation alone. Reach out to Gonzalez & Waddington for dedicated legal support and advocacy.

What are the Types of Murder Under Article 118 UCMJ?

  1. Article 118(1) UCMJ Premeditated Murder
  2. Article 118(2) UCMJ Unpremeditated Murder
  3. Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while engaging in an act inherently dangerous to another
  4. Article 118(4) UCMJ Murder

What are the Elements of Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while Engaging in an Inherently Dangerous Act?

  1. That (state the name or description of the alleged victim) is dead;
  2. That (his) (her) death resulted from the intentional act of the accused in (state the act alleged), at (state the time and place alleged);
  3. That this act was inherently dangerous to another and showed a wanton disregard for human life;
  4. That the accused knew that death or great bodily harm was a probable consequence of the act; and
  5. That the killing by the accused was unlawful.

What are the Maximum Punishments for Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while engaging in an inherently dangerous act?

Maximum Punishment for Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while Engaging in an Inherently Dangerous Act committed between 1 Jan 2019 to 27 Dec 2023:

  • Death or mandatory minimum of confinement for life with eligibility for parole.
  • Dishonorable Discharge, BCD, Dismissal
  • Total Forfeitures
  • Reduction to E-1
  • Collateral Consequences of a Federal Felony Conviction

Maximum Punishment for Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while Engaging in an Inherently Dangerous Act committed after 27 Dec 2023

  • Under the Sentencing Parameters, Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while Engaging in an Inherently Dangerous Act is a Category 6 Offense – Confinement for life with eligibility for parole
  • Dishonorable Discharge, BCD, Dismissal
  • Total Forfeitures
  • Reduction to E-1
  • Collateral Consequences of a Federal Felony Conviction
  • 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 Specifications for Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while engaging in an inherently dangerous act

In that SPC Paula Rosen, US Army, did, Yongsan, South Korea, on or about 4 June 2025, murder Richard Lewis, by means of stabbing him with a knife.

Model Specifications for Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while engaging in an inherently dangerous act

In that ______ (personal jurisdiction data), did, (at/on board—location), on or about  ______, murder ________ by means of (shooting (him) (her) with a rifle) (______).

What are the Definitions for Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while engaging in an inherently dangerous act?

  • The killing of a human being is unlawful when done without legal justification or excuse.
  • The act must be intentional, but death or great bodily harm does not have to be the intended result.
  • The act may even be accompanied by a wish that death will not be caused.
  • An act shows a wanton disregard for human life when it is characterized by heedlessness of the probable consequences of the act or indifference to the likelihood of death or great bodily harm and demonstrates a total disregard for the known probable results of death or great bodily harm.

Voluntary intoxication in an Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while Engaging in an Inherently Dangerous Act case:

Suppose there is some evidence of voluntary intoxication but no issue of insanity. In that case, the following instruction may be appropriate, provided there were no other factors that may have combined with the accused’s alcohol consumption to affect the accused’s mental capacity to intend the act and know its probable consequences.

Although the accused must have intended the act and known its probable results, voluntary intoxication, by itself, is not a defense to this offense. Furthermore, voluntary intoxication, standing alone, will not reduce this offense to a lesser degree of unlawful killing.

Findings Worksheet and announcement of findings when Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while Engaging in an Inherently Dangerous Act is a lesser included offense.

When a violation of Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while Engaging in an Inherently Dangerous Act is a lesser included offense or in issue as an alternate theory to murder under Article 118 (1) or (2), the Findings Worksheet should clearly indicate this theory of culpability.

Brain death instruction for Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while Engaging in an Inherently Dangerous Act

The military standard for death includes brain death. An individual is dead who has sustained either:

  1. Irreversible cessation of spontaneous respiration and circulatory functions, or
  2. Irreversible cessation of all functions of the brain, including the brain stem. See US v. Gomez, 15 MJ 954 (ACMR 1983); US v. Jefferson, 22 MJ 315 (CMA 1986); and US v. Taylor, 44 MJ 254 (CAAF 1996). Instruction 7-24, Brain Death, may be adapted for this circumstance.

Other instructions for Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while Engaging in an Inherently Dangerous Act:

  • Instruction 7-3, Circumstantial Evidence (Knowledge), is usually appropriate.
  • Instruction 5-11-1, Ignorance or Mistake – Where Specific Intent or Actual Knowledge is an Issue, may apply to the accused’s knowledge of the conditions under which he/she acted.

Legal References for Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while engaging in an inherently dangerous act

  • US v. Stokes, 19 CMR 191(CMA 1955)
  • US v. Berg, 31 MJ 38 (CMA 1990)
  • US v. McMonagle, 34 MJ 852 (ACMR 1992), rev’d in part, 38 MJ 53 (CMA 1993).

Overview of Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while engaging in an inherently dangerous act

Article 118(3) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) addresses the offense of murder committed while engaging in an inherently dangerous act. This provision applies when a service member causes the death of another person through actions that are so perilous that they demonstrate a blatant disregard for human life.

Hiring a Military Defense Lawyer for Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while engaging in an inherently dangerous act

Unlike premeditated murder, which requires intent to kill, murder under Article 118(3) hinges on the recklessness and indifference exhibited by the perpetrator. The act itself must be inherently dangerous, meaning it carries a high risk of causing death or serious bodily harm due to its nature. Examples include discharging a firearm in a crowded area, driving at excessively high speeds in hazardous conditions, or handling explosives negligently.

Selecting the Best Military Defense Lawyers for Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while engaging in an inherently dangerous act

The prosecution must prove that the accused knowingly engaged in such dangerous behavior, resulting in the victim’s death. The key element is the disregard for the potential consequences of their actions rather than a specific intent to kill.

Conviction under Article 118(3) UCMJ Murder while Engaging in an Inherently Dangerous Act can result in severe penalties, including life imprisonment or even the death penalty, reflecting the gravity of the offense and the military’s commitment to maintaining discipline and accountability within its ranks. This article underscores the importance of responsible conduct and the severe repercussions of reckless behavior in the armed forces.

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