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Article 134—General article (Page 2)


(4) Crimes and offenses not capital (clause 3).

    (a) In general. State and foreign laws are not included within the crimes and offenses not capital referred to in this clause of Article 134 and violations thereof may not be prosecuted as such except when State law becomes Federal law of local application under section 13 of title 18 of the United States Code(Federal Assimilative Crimes Act— see subparagraph (4) (c) below). For the purpose of court-martial jurisdiction, the laws which may be applied under clause 3 of Article 134 are divided into two groups: crimes and offenses of unlimited application (crimes which are punishable regardless where they may be committed), and crimes and offenses of local application (crimes which are punishable only if committed in a reas of federal jurisdiction).

    (b) Crimes and offenses of unlimited application. Certain noncapital crimes and offenses prohibited by the United States Code are made applicable under clause 3 of Article 134 to all persons subject to the code regardless where the wrongful act or omission occurred. Examples include: counterfeiting ( 18 U.S.C. § 471), and various frauds against the Government not covered by Article 132.

    (c) Crimes and offenses of local application.

      (i) In general. A person subject to the code may not be punished under clause 3 of Article 134 for an offense that occurred in a place where the law in question did not apply. For example, a person may not be punished under clause 3 of Article 134 when the act occurred in a foreign country merely because that act would have been an offense under the United States Code had the act occurred in the United States. Regardless where committed, such an act might be punishable under clauses 1 or 2 of Article 134. There are two types of congressional enactments of local application: specific federal statutes (defining particular crimes), and a general federal statute, the Federal Assimilative Crimes Act (which adopts certain state criminal laws).

      (ii) Federal Assimilative Crimes Act ( 18U.S.C. § 13). The Federal Assimilative Crimes Act is an adoption by Congress of state criminal laws for areas of exclusive or concurrent federal jurisdiction, provided federal criminal law, including the UCMJ, has not defined an applicable offense for the misconduct committed. The Act applies to state laws validly existing at the time of the offense without regard to when these laws were enacted, whether before or after passage of the Act, and whether before or after the acquisition of the land where the offense was committed. For example, if a person committed an act on a military installation in the United States at a certain location over which the United States had either exclusive or concurrent jurisdiction, and it was not an offense specifically defined by federal law (including the UCMJ), that person could be punished for that act by a court-martial if it was a violation of a noncapital offense under the law of the State where the military installation was located. This is possible because the Act adopts the criminal law of the state wherein the military installation is located and applies it as though it were federal law. The text of the Act is as follows: Whoever within or upon any of the places now existing or hereafter reserved or acquired as provided in section 7 of this title, is guilty of any act or omission which, although not made punishable by any enactment of Congress, would be punishable if committed or omitted within the jurisdiction of the State, Territory, Possession, or District in which such place is situated, by the laws thereof in force at the time of such act or omission, shall be guilty of a like offense and subject to a like punishment.

(5) Limitations on Article 134.

    (a) Preemption doctrine. The preemption doc-trine prohibits application of Article 134 to conduct covered by Articles 80 through 132. For example, larceny is covered in Article 121, and if an element of that offense is lacking—for example, intent— there can be no larceny or larceny-type offense, either under Article 121 or, because of preemption, under Article 134. Article 134 cannot be used to create a new kind of larceny offense, one without the required intent, where Congress has already set the minimum requirements for such an offense in Article 121.

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