CORE CRIMINAL LAW SUBJECTS: Crimes: Article 108 - Military Property of the U.S.-Sale, Loss, Damage, Destruction, or Wrongful Disposition



United States v. Aleman, 62 M.J. 281 (Article 108(3), UCMJ, provides for the trial by court-martial of a person who, without proper authority willfully or through neglect suffers to be lost, damaged, sold, or wrongfully disposed of any US military property; in this context, suffers means to allow or permit; the five elements of the offense are:  (1) that certain property was sold; (2) that the property was military property of the United States; (3) that the sale was suffered by the accused, without proper authority, through a certain omission of duty by the accused; (4) that the omission was willful or negligent; and (5) that the property was of a certain value; the reference to omission in the third and fourth elements is significant because the prosecution must prove a duty and the failure to do the duty).


United States v. Daniels, 56 MJ 365 (a physical breaking of the property need not always be shown in order for there to be sufficient evidence that military property was actually damaged, as required by Article 108, UCMJ).

(the word "damage" must be reasonably construed to mean any change in the condition of the property which impairs its operational readiness).

(there was ample evidence that the removal of airplane window screws before or during the flight of the plane led to its failure to pressurize and required the commander to terminate the military mission of the plane; this was legally sufficient evidence to support a conviction under Article 108, UCMJ).

(a rational trier of fact could have concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that it was appellant who damaged the aircraft by removing the screws from the airplane window where: (1) there was evidence that the inspection window was secure some forty-five minutes prior to the flight; (2) appellant was on the aircraft during the period directly prior to takeoff, and he indicated to Sergeant Wallace that he would check the latrine for stowaways; (3) appellant admitted that he "found" the screws that should have secured the windows; and (4) he made inconsistent statements to the flight crew and the OSI as to what he then did with them).

(there is no legal requirement that the Government prove beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant had a motive to wrongfully damage military property in order to secure a conviction of this offense).


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