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Punitive Articles of the UCMJ

Article 121 - Larceny and wrongful appropriation

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Text.

“(a) Any person subject to this chapter who wrongfully takes, obtains, or withholds, by any means, from the possession of the owner or of any other person any money, personal property, or article of value of any kind—”

    (1) with intent permanently to deprive or de-fraud another person of the use and benefit of property or to appropriate it to his own use or the use of any person other than the owner, steals that property and is guilty of larceny; or

    (2) with intent temporarily to deprive or de-fraud another person of the use and benefit of property or to appropriate it to his own use or the use of any person other than the owner, is guilty of wrongful appropriation.

(b) Any person found guilty of larceny or wrongful appropriation shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Elements.

(1) Larceny.

    (a) That the accused wrongfully took, obtained, or withheld certain property from the possession of the owner or of any other person;

    (b) That the property belonged to a certain person;

    (c) That the property was of a certain value, or of some value; and

    (d) That the taking, obtaining, or withholding by the accused was with the intent permanently to deprive or defraud another person of the use and benefit of the property or permanently to appropriate the property for the use of the accused or for any person other than the owner. Note: If the property is alleged to be military property, as defined in paragraph 32c(1), add the following element

    (e) That the property was military property.

(2) Wrongful appropriation.

    (a) That the accused wrongfully took, obtained, or withheld certain property from the possession of the owner or of any other person;

    (b) That the property belonged to a certain person;

    (c) That the property was of a certain value, or of some value; and

    (d) That the taking, obtaining, or withholding by the accused was with the intent temporarily to deprive or defraud another person of the use and benefit of the property or temporarily to appropriate the property for the use of the accused or for any person other than the owner.

Explanation.

(1) Larceny.

    (a) In general. A wrongful taking with intent permanently to deprive includes the common law offense of larceny; a wrongful obtaining with intent permanently to defraud includes the offense formerly known as obtaining by false pretense; and a wrongful withholding with intent permanently to appropriate includes the offense formerly known as embezzlement. Any of the various types of larceny under Article 121 may be charged and proved under a specification alleging that the accused “did steal” the property in question.

    (b) Taking, obtaining, or withholding. There must be a taking, obtaining, or withholding of the property by the thief. For instance, there is no taking if the property is connected to a building by a chain and the property has not been disconnected from the building; property is not “obtained” by merely acquiring title thereto without exercising some possessory control over it. As a general rule, however, any movement of the property or any exercise of dominion over it is sufficient if accompanied by the requisite intent. Thus, if an accused enticed another’s horse into the accused’s stable without touching the animal, or procured a railroad company to deliver another’s trunk by changing the check on it, or obtained the delivery of another’s goods to a person or place designated by the accused, or had the funds of another transferred to the accused’s bank account, the accused is guilty of larceny if the other elements of the offense have been proved. A person may “obtain” the property of another by acquiring possession without title, and one who already has possession of the property of another may “obtain” it by later acquiring title to it. A “withholding” may arise as a result of a failure to return, account for, or deliver property to its owner when a return, accounting, or delivery is due, even if the owner has made no demand for the property, or it may arise as a result of devoting property to a use not authorized by its owner. Generally, this is so whether the person withholding the property acquired it lawfully or unlawfully. See subparagraph c(1)(f) below. However, acts which constitute the offense of unlawfully receiving, buying, or concealing stolen property or of being an accessory after the fact are not included within the meaning of “withholds.” Therefore, neither a receiver of stolen property nor an accessory after the fact can be convicted of larceny on that basis alone. The taking, obtaining, or withholding must be of specific property. A debtor does not withhold specific property from the possession of a creditor by failing or refusing to pay a debt, for the relationship of debtor and creditor does not give the creditor a possessory right in any specific money or other property of the debtor.

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