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Article 112a UCMJ Drug Offenses Lawyers

Article 112a of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is a critical piece of military law that outlines drug offenses and their consequences for service members. The UCMJ is a federal law that governs the conduct of all members of the United States armed forces, including active duty, reserve, and National Guard personnel.

Understanding the nuances of Article 112a is crucial for service members and legal professionals alike, especially for those seeking counsel or representation. At Military Law, our Article 112a UCMJ drug offenses lawyers recognize the complexities surrounding these cases and aim to provide clarity and guidance to those facing such charges.

Drug offenses in the military fall under Article 112a, UCMJ. These include:

  • Possession, use, distribution, introduction, or importation
  • Marijuana (THC), cocaine, methamphetamine, and other drugs

Possible defenses, especially for use of a controlled substance, include:

  • Unknowing or innocent ingestion
  • Good military character

We are very experienced in defending service members in drug cases.

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The Controlled Substances Act and Article 112a

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is a federal law that regulates the manufacture, importation, possession, use, and distribution of certain substances. Enacted in 1970, the CSA classifies drugs into five schedules based on their medical use, potential for abuse, and safety under medical supervision. Schedule I substances have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, while Schedule V substances have a low potential for abuse and accepted medical uses.

Article 112a of the UCMJ works with the CSA by prohibiting the use, possession, distribution, and manufacture of controlled substances as defined by the CSA. The CSA provides the legal framework for determining which substances are considered controlled, while Article 112a applies these definitions to the military context and establishes the consequences for a service member who violates drug laws.

Types of Drugs Covered Under Article 112a

Article 112a of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) encompasses a wide range of controlled substances and illegal drugs. Understanding which substances fall under this article is key for service members and legal professionals navigating drug offense cases in the military.

In addition to those drugs listed above, some of the most common types of drugs covered by Article 112a include:

  • Opioids: Opioids are a class of drugs that include both prescription painkillers and illegal substances. Examples of opioids covered under Article 112a include heroin, morphine, oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and fentanyl. The misuse of controlled substances prescribed by a doctor, or the wrongful possession of illegal opioids can lead to serious charges under the UCMJ.
  • Hallucinogens: Hallucinogenic drugs alter a person’s perception, thoughts, and feelings. Some of the most well-known hallucinogens include lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin mushrooms, mescaline, and dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Possession, use, or distribution is strictly prohibited under Article 112a.
  • Prescription Drugs: While prescription drugs are legal when used as directed by a healthcare provider, the misuse or abuse of these substances without a valid prescription is a violation of Article 112a. This includes the unauthorized use of prescription stimulants (e.g., Adderall, Ritalin), depressants (e.g., Xanax, Valium), and painkillers (e.g., Percocet, Vicodin).
  • Synthetic Drugs: Synthetic drugs, also known as “designer drugs,” are chemically modified substances designed to mimic the effects of illegal drugs while skirting legal restrictions. Examples include synthetic cannabinoids (e.g., Spice, K2) and synthetic cathinones (e.g., bath salts). These substances are often labeled as “not for human consumption” to avoid regulation but are still considered controlled substances under Article 112a.

Other drugs covered by Article 112a include:

  • Anabolic steroids (when used without a valid prescription)
  • Inhalants (e.g., nitrous oxide, aerosol sprays)

Service members need to be aware of the broad scope of substances covered under Article 112a and the potential consequences of drug offenses in the military. Experienced legal representation from a knowledgeable military defense attorney can protect your rights and build a strong defense strategy.

Unknowing Ingestion of Controlled Substances

Outside of the military, drug use is common. Many states have legalized marijuana, though it remains a Schedule I controlled substance that is banned for military members. The prevalence of edibles such as THC gummies and vape oils have made it more likely that a person may ingest a controlled substance without realizing it. For example:

  • Workout supplements may also contain unlabeled ingredients that could cause a positive drug test.
  • Cocaine can be consumed in very small amounts, unknowingly and without feeling significant effects.
  • Medical review officers may misread prescriptions.

These are all factors to consider because Article 112a requires proof of knowledge that the substance used was a controlled substance or contraband. Unknowing ingestion is not a crime.

Consequences of Drug Offenses in the Military

Drug offenses under Article 112a of the UCMJ can have severe and long-lasting consequences for service members. A conviction can lead to a range of punishments that not only impact a service member’s military career but also their personal life and prospects.

Drug use in the military may result in administrative action, nonjudicial punishment, administrative separation, or a court-martial. Some of the most significant potential consequences include:

  • Dishonorable Discharge: A dishonorable discharge is the most serious form of punitive discharge in the military. It is reserved for service members convicted of serious offenses, including drug crimes. A dishonorable discharge strips a service member of their military status and benefits, and it carries a lasting stigma that can affect future employment and personal relationships.
  • Confinement: Service members convicted of drug offenses may face confinement in a military prison or brig. The length of confinement depends on the severity of the offense and the circumstances of the case. Confinement can range from a few months to several years, depending on the type and quantity of the substance involved and whether the offense involved distribution or intent to distribute.
  • Forfeiture of Pay and Allowances: A conviction under Article 112a can result in the forfeiture of pay and allowances. This means that a portion or all of a service member’s salary and benefits may be withheld as part of their punishment. The amount and duration of the forfeiture depend on the specific circumstances of the case.
  • Reduction in Rank: Enlisted service members convicted of drug offenses may face reduction in rank as part of their punishment. This can have significant financial consequences, as pay and benefits are tied to rank. A reduction in rank also carries a reputational stigma and can limit future advancement opportunities within the military.
  • Loss of Security Clearance and Future Employment Opportunities: A conviction for a drug offense can result in the loss of a service member’s security clearance. This can have severe consequences for those in sensitive positions or those who rely on their clearance for their military duties. The loss of a security clearance can also limit future employment opportunities, both within the military and in the civilian sector, particularly for jobs that require a clean criminal record or a trustworthiness determination.

In addition to these specific consequences, a drug offense conviction can have ripple effects throughout a service member’s life. It may strain personal relationships, cause financial hardship, and lead to long-term reputational damage.

How Military Defense Lawyers Can Help

The law allows the jury to infer guilt based on a positive urinalysis (or positive UA), which means a failed drug test, but this “permissive inference” is not required. We have seen military juries find our clients not guilty when we can provide ample good military character evidence and an explanation for how unknowing ingestion occurred.

We are highly skilled at cross-examining government toxicologists to show weaknesses in the urinalysis program and create reasonable doubt. The biggest weaknesses are that government experts are unable to determine exactly when a substance was used, how much was used, and whether the use was intentional or not.

When you contact Military Law, we will begin by conducting a thorough review of your case, including the circumstances surrounding the alleged offense and any evidence against you. We will then advise you on your legal options and help you make informed decisions about how to proceed.

In many cases, Article 112a charges are handled through a military court-martial, which is a formal legal proceeding similar to a civilian trial. Our attorneys have a deep understanding of the military justice system and can represent you at every stage of the court-martial process, from the initial investigation and Article 32 hearing to the trial itself.

We also have experience representing service members in administrative proceedings, such as separation boards and discharge hearings. If you are facing administrative action as a result of a drug offense, we can help you present a compelling case for retention and fight to protect your military career.

Contact the Attorneys at Military Law to Fight a Drug Charge

At Military Law, our skilled military defense attorneys understand the unique challenges and complexities of military drug cases. We are dedicated to providing you with the guidance and advocacy you need during this difficult time. Our team of military defense lawyers has extensive experience handling these types of cases and can help you navigate the legal process from start to finish.

We recognize that every case is unique, and we will work closely with you to develop a personalized legal strategy that takes into account your specific circumstances and goals. Our attorneys are committed to providing you with the highest level of legal representation and will be by your side every step of the way.

Don’t let a drug charge under Article 112a derail your military career and future. Contact Military Law today to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our experienced military defense attorneys. We are here to help you protect your rights, your reputation, and your future. The attorneys at Military Law can help you navigate the complex legal system and work to mitigate the potential consequences of a conviction. If you have a positive urinalysis, contact our military defense lawyers immediately to see how we can help.

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Jeremy Snyder

Article 112a UCMJ Drug Offenses Attorney, Jeremy Snyder