How law enforcement looks at elements of crimes

Elements of the offenses and law enforcement officers.

When punitive articles are taught, it is traditional to discuss each offense and then review the elements. Reviewing the facts and discussing the law is not a helpful approach for this new Article because of many crimes. Such an approach is also not beneficial, for it is the facts that result from the investigation will drive what offense occurred. Until the investigation is completed, agents and the prosecution do not know what crime, if any, has been committed.

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In other words, law enforcement officers should not approach an investigation focusing on the elements of 36 offenses. Instead, law enforcement should be globally familiar with crucial elements and definitions. But, criminal investigators should first determine the facts. Then, in conjunction with the trial counsel – examine what offenses may have been committed. Once the facts are known and what elements can be satisfied, should agents focus on precisely what U.C.M.J. offense, if any, was committed.

Selecting the offenses at issue

In keeping with the discussion of the preceding paragraphs of why agents should first collect all the facts and then review the elements of the offenses, it is recommended that investigators follow the suggested investigatory scheme on the following pages. Once the facts are known, use the charts and “elements table” to determine which offenses are at play. These tables are organized by the key elements and highlight offenses limited to child victims. Also included is a list of critical definitions and, finally, a table of maximum punishments for the new Article 120 offenses.

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