UCMJ Article 122a Receiving Stolen Property Lawyers

The UCMJ Article 122a receiving stolen property lawyers at Brett O’Brien Law know that a charge for receiving stolen property can be filed against almost anyone. For example, an innocent transaction with someone that you barely know or a transaction on Craigslist could unknowingly result in you purchasing stolen property. The UCMJ defense lawyers at Brett O’Brien Law, however, know that the prosecutors assigned to handle your case must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you knew that the property in question was stolen.

This is where having an experienced military defense lawyer can make the difference between a conviction or a dismissal of all charges.  Moreover, in addition to the harsh sentencing that a conviction under Article 122a can carry, a conviction of this nature could cost you your military career. If you have been charged with receiving stolen property under Article 122a, contact  UCMJ Article 122a receiving stolen property lawyers at Brett O’Brien Law today for a free consultation.

Statutory Text of UCMJ Article 122a Receiving Stolen Property

The text of Article 122a of the UCMJ provides, in full, as follows:

Any person subject to this chapter who wrongfully receives, buys, or conceals stolen property, knowing the property to be stolen property, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Elements of the Offense for UCMJ Article 122a Receiving Stolen Property

In order to be convicted of violating UCMJ Article 122a, receiving stolen property, the prosecution must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. That you “wrongfully” received, bought, or concealed property;
  2. That the property belonged to another person;
  3. The property was stolen; and
  4. That you knew that the property was stolen.

With regard to the element that the property be “wrongfully” received, bought, or concealed, “wrongfulness” means without justification or excuse.  Thus, for example, someone who received stolen property in an effort to return it to the rightful owner, was not in wrongful receipt of the stolen property.

In addition, as can be seen, the fourth element requires that you must have had actual knowledge that the property was stolen in order to be convicted of this offense. That being said, the prosecution can prove knowledge through the use of circumstantial evidence.

Potential Punishments for Violating UCMJ Article 122a Receiving Stolen Property

The maximum punishments that apply for a violation of UCMJ Article 122a will depend on the value of the property.

  • If the property is worth $1,000 or less – the maximum possible punishment may include a bad conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for up to one year.
  • If the property is worth more than $1,000 – the maximum possible punishment may include a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for up to three years.

Defenses to UCMJ Article 122a Receiving Stolen Property

The prosecution must prove each and every element of the case beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to do so, the defendant must be found not guilty.

There are several defenses that may be asserted in a receiving stolen property case, such as lack of knowledge, lack of possession, and lack of intent.

  • Lack of Knowledge. As explained above, in order to be convicted of this offense, the prosecutors must prove that the defendant knew that the property in question was stolen. If the prosecution has direct evidence to show that the defendant knew that the property was stolen, such as a written or oral statement from the individual who actually stole the property admitting to the defendant at the time of the purchase that the goods were stolen, then the prosecution will easily be able to prove the knowledge element.  In most cases, however, the evidence is not as clear and the prosecution will instead need to rely on circumstantial evidence to prove the defendant knew that the property was stolen.  It can be very hard for the prosecution to prove that the defendant had knowledge that the property was stolen, so this is often a common element to attack.
  • Lack of Possession. The first element of this offense requires the prosecution to prove that the defendant received, bought, or concealed the property that was allegedly stolen. Thus, it may be a defense that the items were not actually in the defendant’s possession.  As an example, if the defendant was a passenger in a car that was pulled over where a stolen gun was found, the defendant can argue that he or she was not ever in possession of the gun and did not even know that it was in the vehicle.
  • Lack of Wrongfulness. In addition to proving that the defendant knew that the property was stolen, it must also prove that the defendant’s possession of the alleged stolen property was “wrongful.” Thus, as explained above, if the defendant took the goods with the intent of returning them to the lawful owner, the defendant may be found not guilty of receiving stolen property.

Nationwide UCMJ Article 122a Receiving Stolen Property Lawyers

The  UCMJ Article 122a receiving stolen property lawyers at Brett O’Brien Law have been defending service members accused of receiving stolen property for years. If you are charged with violating Article 122a, contact an experienced military defense lawyer today.  At Brett O’Brien Law, we  have defended servicemembers facing courts-martial for Article 122a offenses and we will ensure that all avenues of defense are pursued in your case.

Moreover, our military defense lawyers are here to assist you, regardless of where you are currently located.

Call us today at (202) 600-4996 for a free consultation.