Do Theft Charges Need to Involve Property or Money?

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As Bradley Manning found out, a service member can be convicted of theft involving government documents. He’s the Army Private and former intelligence analyst who leaked hundreds of thousands of confidential documents and information to the website Wikileaks. Manning pled guilty to five theft charges and contested 21 others. He was found guilty of twenty charges, but not aiding the enemy, at his trial in 2013.

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in a military prison. He was also reduced in rank, forfeited all pay and allowances and received a dishonorable discharge, according to ABC News. The aiding the enemy charge would have carried a life sentence.

His court martial started three years after Manning was detained in Iraq on suspicion of leaking a video showing a helicopter attack by U.S. forces that killed several Iraqi civilians. He was later charged with leaking about 750,000 documents that were battlefield reports and diplomatic cables. It may have been the most extensive leak of classified information in U.S. history.

Prosecutors used computer forensics to show Manning’s computer activity while he was in Iraq in 2009 and 2010. They said that within weeks of his arrival, Manning began searching classified military computer networks for materials that would be of interest to WikiLeaks.

Manning claimed his intent was altruistic but the judge in the case, Col. Denise Lind, described his actions as “wanton and reckless (and) made it actually and imminently dangerous to others.”

Manning is currently being held at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. He recently made the news because the Army agreed to provide him with hormone therapy so he can transition to becoming a woman. After his conviction Manning officially had his first name changed to Chelsea.

If you or a family member is a member of the military and accused of theft, whether of goods, money or documents, the help of an experienced court martial defense attorney is needed to ensure the process is done properly and the rights of the accused are protected. If you or your loved one is in Denver, Colorado Springs, or stationed elsewhere across the globe, Aviso Law is available at (719)247-3111. Call for a free consultation today.

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