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Article 119b, UCMJ. Child Endangerment

Article 119b, UCMJ Child Endangerment is a new article under the 2019 Manual for Courts Martial

Any person subject to this chapter under Article 119b

(1) who has a duty for the care of a child under the age of 16 years; and
(2) who, through design or culpable negligence, endangers the child’s mental or physical health, safety, or welfare shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Child endangerment used to be an Article 134 offense, but with the changes of the Military Justice Act of 2016, it is now its own criminal offense.

In order to obtain a finding of “guilty” the prosecution must prove each element of a charged offense, in this case Article 119b child endangerment, “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If the prosecution fails to prove just one element, then the finding at the end of a court-martial should be “not guilty.” Some of the more commonly charged military criminal statues and their elements are reproduced below for information purposes only. For more information on the sources of military criminal law and procedure, see Part 2 of our Blog series entitled “A Rough Form of Justice.”

For more information on this offense, Article 119b Child Endangerment, including the maximum punishment, potential defenses, and a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecution’s case consult with an experienced military lawyer.

Peter Kageleiry, Jr. has practiced military law since 1998. Because of his twenty years of active duty service as both a line officer and a JAG, he also knows and understands military culture.

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