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Larceny Offense Under Article 121

Larceny is an offense under Article 121 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  It is an offense that must involve tangible personal property.  Article 121 lists the objects which can be the subject of larceny as “any money, personal property, or article of value of any kind.”

Intangible items cannot be the subject of an Article 121 violation.  For example, Article 121 does not cover theft of services such as theft of taxicab services, phone services, use and occupancy of government quarters, and use of a rental car.  Theft of services may be prosecuted in any of the following ways: (1) under Article 134, UCMJ, as obtaining services under false pretenses or as dishonorably failing to pay just debts; (2) under 18 U.S.C. § 641 as assimilated into military law by Article. 134(3), UCMJ, if the services taken are property of the United States; (3) as a violation of a state statute assimilated through 18 U.S.C. § 13.

The elements of larceny are as follows:

(1) That the accused wrongfully took, obtained, or withheld certain property from the possession of the owner or of any other person;
(2) That the property belonged to a certain person;
(3) That the property was of a certain value, or of some value; and
(4) 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.
(5) [If the property is alleged to be military property, then the following element is added:] That the property was military property.

A common example of larceny involves larceny by false pretenses and involves unauthorized pay or allowances.  When Congress authorized basic allowance for housing for service members with “dependents,” it did not intend to include a person linked to a service member only by a sham marriage.  A marriage entered into solely for the purpose of obtaining government benefits is a sham marriage and not entitled to Basic Allowances for Housing (BAH).

A larceny by false pretenses may also exist by one’s silence or by a failure to correct a known misrepresentation. For example, a larceny of BAQ and Variable Housing Allowance (VHA) or Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) by false pretenses is committed when a Soldier obtains a divorce, but does not report their change in marital status.  Instead, the Soldier remains silent and exploits the government reliance on their previous statement of marital status to continue receiving pay with dependents rate.

Another example of BAQ and VHA/OHA larceny involves the situation where a Soldier declares a false address for a dependent to obtain increased BAQ and VHA/OHA allowances.  In such cases, the government would alleged that when the Soldier misrepresented the location of their dependent to obtain additional benefits, that Soldier has committed the offense of larceny by false pretenses.

Soldiers typically get caught engaging in BAQ and VHA/OHA fraud through audits of housing allotments.  An issue can also arise when their command compares leave and earning statements with other documents that reveal a discrepancy.

Civilian Military Lawyer

If you are charged with an Article 121 offense, you want to make sure that you have the best military lawyer at your side.  Mr. Coombs is a civilian military lawyer with over 20 years of court-martial experience.  He has successfully defended Soldiers facing larceny allegations.  He knows how to put forth your best defense, and ensure that every possible angle is explored.  If you are being investigated for a larceny, get ahead of the game by contacting Mr. Coombs today for a free consultation.