CORE CRIMINAL LAW SUBJECTS: Crimes: Article 127 - Extortion

2008 (September Term)


United States v. Brown, 67 M.J. 147 (Article 127, UCMJ, prohibits the communication of threats to another person with the intention thereby to obtain anything of value or any acquittance, advantage, or immunity; the MCM explains that, unless it is clear from the circumstances, the advantage or immunity sought should be described in the specification; the MCM further explains that an intent to make a person do an act against that person’s will is not, by itself, sufficient to constitute extortion). 


(in this case, the specification was sufficient to state an offense of extortion under Article 127, UCMJ, in that it described the advantage that appellant sought to achieve (the participation of the victim in sexual relations) and further described the threat communicated to the victim to obtain that advantage (to expose their past sexual relationship in a manner that would harm her military career); as such, the specification was consistent with part IV, para. 54.c.(4) of the MCM, which expresses a preference for an express description of the advantage; moreover, the specification was consistent with the additional guidance in para. 54.c.(4), which states that an intent to have “a person do an act against that person’s will,” would not be sufficient “by itself” to constitute extortion; here, in addition to alleging that appellant sought to have the victim engage in an act against her will, the specification further alleged that appellant intended to obtain an advantage through her participation with him in sexual relations; as such, the specification did not rely solely, or “by itself,” on an allegation that appellant sought to have her engage in an act against her will). 


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