Understanding Article 119 UCMJ: Assault with Intent to Commit Murder 


The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) serves as the legal backbone for the United States military, defining and regulating the conduct of military personnel. Article 119 of the UCMJ specifically addresses a grave offense that strikes at the heart of military discipline and order – assault with intent to commit murder.

In this article, we will delve into the key aspects of Article 119, exploring its elements, potential consequences, and the broader implications for military justice.

Article 119: Assault with Intent to Commit Murder

Article 119 of the UCMJ outlines the offense of assault with intent to commit murder. This article underscores the severity of the act by explicitly targeting cases where an individual not only commits an assault but does so with the specific intent to take another person’s life. The elements of the offense include the willful infliction of serious bodily harm with the intent to kill, coupled with actions that strongly indicate a genuine threat to life.

Intent is a crucial component of this offense. It requires a prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had a conscious desire or purpose to cause the death of another person. This distinguishes the offense from lesser charges related to assault and emphasizes the gravity of the accused’s actions.

Consequences of Violating Article 119:

Being charged and convicted under Article 119 carries severe consequences, as the offense involves a deliberate attempt to take someone’s life. Penalties may include a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for a lengthy period. The severity of the punishment will depend on various factors, such as the degree of harm inflicted, the premeditation involved, and the impact on the victim.

Moreover, individuals found guilty under Article 119 may face civilian legal consequences in addition to military justice repercussions. The dual nature of these consequences underscores the commitment to holding military personnel accountable for their actions both within and outside the military environment.

Challenges in Prosecuting Article 119 Cases:

Prosecuting cases under Article 119 can be complex due to the need to establish intent and navigate the nuances of military law. The legal process often involves thorough investigations, witness testimonies, and the presentation of compelling evidence. Additionally, the involvement of military courts and the distinct procedures they follow further add to the intricacies of trying Article 119 cases.

Prevention and Accountability:

To prevent incidents leading to charges under Article 119, military commanders emphasize the importance of discipline, proper training, and fostering a culture of respect within the ranks. Education on conflict resolution, stress management, and mental health awareness plays a vital role in promoting a healthier environment and reducing the likelihood of violent confrontations.


Article 119 of the UCMJ stands as a testament to the military’s commitment to maintaining order and discipline within its ranks. Assault with intent to commit murder is a serious offense that warrants thorough investigation, fair proceedings, and appropriate consequences for those found guilty. Understanding the implications of Article 119 underscores the gravity of the offense and reinforces the importance of upholding the values and standards of the United States military.