battery upon a child under 16 years, it is not necessary that the perpetrator know the child's age at the
time of the assault.
D. Murder (Article 118, UCMJ). The UCMJ makes punishable the unlawful killing of another
- Has a premeditated design to kill;
- Intends to kill or inflict great bodily harm;
- Is engaged in an act which is inherently dangerous to another and displays a wanton
disregard of human life; or
- Is engaged in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of burglary, sodomy, rape, robbery,
This statute establishes four types of murder. We do not refer to the "first degree" or other
murders by "degree" in the military. Article 118, then, forbids four types of unlawful killing:
premeditated murder, intentional murder, wanton murder, and felony murder. Premeditated murder and
felony murder are known as "capital offenses" because the death penalty may be imposed if "special
circumstances" of Rules for Court Martial/004 are present.
1. Premeditated murder, Article 118(1), UCMJ. This offense consists of four elements:
a. That a certain named or described person is dead;
b. That the act resulted from the act or omission of the accused;
c. That the killing was unlawful; and
d. That, at the time of the killing, the accused had a premeditated design to kill.
A murder is not premeditated unless the thought of the killing was consciously conceived,
and the act or omission by which the life was taken was intentional. Premeditated murder occurs after
the accused forms a specific intent to kill someone and considers the killing. U.S. v. Vida, 26 MJ 822
(ACMR 1988). It is not necessary that the intention to kill had been entertained for any particular or
considerable length of time. Part IV, MCM 1984, para 43(c) (2) (a).
QUESTION: HOW CAN A PERSON'S INTENT BE PROVEN?
ANSWER: A CONFESSION IS ONE WAY. THE SUSPECT'S OWN STATEMENTS MAY BE THE
MOST CONCLUSIVE INDICATION OF WHAT HIS OR HER INTENT WAS AT THE TIME OF
QUESTION: ARE THERE ANY OTHER WAYS TO PROVE INTENT?