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Punitive Articles of the UCMJ

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The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is the bedrock of military law. The UCMJ is a federal law, enacted by Congress. Articles 77 through 134 of the UCMJ are known as the "punitive articles," -- that is, specific offenses which, if violated, can result in punishment by court-martial.

The law requires the Commander-in-Chief (The President of the United States) to implement the provisions of the UCMJ. The President does this via an executive order known as the "Manual for Court Martial" (MCM). Chapter 4 of the MCM includes, and expands on the punitive articles. The MCM divides the punitive articles into six parts: The text, elements of the offense, an explanation, lesser included offenses, maximum permissible punishments, and sample specifications.

The Text: This is the exact text of the article, as Congress approved it in the UCMJ.

Elements: These are the specifics of the offense. In order to support a finding of "guilty," the government must prove each and every element of the offense, beyond a reasonable doubt.

Explanation: The explanation defines terms, and clarifies the elements, based on previous court decisions.

Lesser Included Offense: These are lesser offenses that a military court may still find an accused guilty of, even if the court finds the accused not guilty of the originally charged offense. For example, "Manslaughter," under Article 119 is a lesser included offense of "Murder," under Article 118. If a military court finds the accused not guilty of the crime of Murder, the court can still find the accused guilty of Manslaughter, without the government having to amend the charges.

Maximum Permissible Punishments: These are the *maximum* punishments that a general court martial can award toward a particular offense. While not specifically stated, a general court martial can also reduce a person's grade. Most general court martials reduce the convicted person's grade to the lowest enlisted rank (E-1) when punishment includes time in prison and/or a punitive discharge.

Who is Subject to the UCMJ?- (From Article 2 and 3 of the UCMJ)

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