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Punitive Articles of the UCMJ
Article 116—Riot or breach of peace
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“Any person subject to this chapter who causes or participates in any riot or breach of the peace shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”


(1) Riot.

(a) That the accused was a member of an assembly of three or more persons;

(b) That the accused and at least two other members of this group mutually intended to assist one another against anyone who might oppose them in doing an act for some private purpose;

(c) That the group or some of its members, in furtherance of such purpose, unlawfully committed a tumultuous disturbance of the peace in a violent or turbulent manner; and

(d) That these acts terrorized the public in general in that they caused or were intended to cause public alarm or terror.

(2) Breach of the peace.

(a) That the accused caused or participated in a certain act of a violent or turbulent nature; and

(b) That the peace was thereby unlawfully disturbed.


(1) Riot. “Riot” is a tumultuous disturbance of the peace by three or more persons assembled together in furtherance of a common purpose to execute some enterprise of a private nature by concerted action against anyone who might oppose them, committed in such a violent and turbulent manner as to cause or be calculated to cause public terror. The gravamen of the offense of riot is terrorization of the public. It is immaterial whether the act intended was lawful. Furthermore, it is not necessary that the common purpose be determined before the assembly. It is sufficient if the assembly begins to execute in a tumultuous manner a common purpose formed after it assembled.

(2) Breach of the peace. A “breach of the peace” is an unlawful disturbance of the peace by an out-ward demonstration of a violent or turbulent nature. The acts or conduct contemplated by this article are those which disturb the public tranquility or impinge upon the peace and good order to which the community is entitled. Engaging in an affray and unlawful discharge of firearms in a public street are examples of conduct which may constitute a breach of the peace. Loud speech and unruly conduct may also constitute a breach of the peace by the speaker. A speaker may also by guilty of causing a breach of the peace if the speaker uses language which can reasonably be expected to produce a violent or turbulent response and a breach of the peace results. The fact that the words are true or used under provocation is not a defense, nor is tumultuous conduct excusable because incited by others.

(3) Community and public. “Community” and “public” include a military organization, post, camp, ship, aircraft, or station.

Lesser included offenses.

(1) Riot.

(a) Article 116—breach of the peace

(b) Article 134—disorderly conduct

(c) Article 80—attempts

(2) Breach of the peace.

(a) Article 134—disorderly conduct

(b) Article 80—attempts

Maximum punishment.

(1) Riot. Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 10 years.

(2) Breach of the peace. Confinement for 6 months and forfeiture of two-thirds pay per month for 6 months.

Next Article > Article 117—Provoking speeches or gestures >

Above Information from Manual for Court Martial, 2002, Chapter 4, Paragraph 41


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