10 U.S. Code § 856 - Art. 56. Sentencing

(a) Sentence Maximums.—
The punishment which a court-martial may direct for an offense may not exceed such limits as the President may prescribe for that offense.
(b) Sentence Minimums for Certain Offenses.—
(1)
Except as provided in subsection (d) of section 853a of this title (article 53a), punishment for any offense specified in paragraph (2) shall include dismissal or dishonorable discharge, as applicable.
(2) The offenses referred to in paragraph (1) are as follows:
(A)
Rape under subsection (a) of section 920 of this title (article 120).
(B)
Sexual assault under subsection (b) of such section (article).
(C)
Rape of a child under subsection (a) of section 920b of this title (article 120b).
(D)
Sexual assault of a child under subsection (b) of such section (article).
(E)
An attempt to commit an offense specified in subparagraph (A), (B), (C), or (D) that is punishable under section 880 of this title (article 80).
(F)
Conspiracy to commit an offense specified in subparagraph (A), (B), (C), or (D) that is punishable under section 881 of this title (article 81).
(c) Imposition of Sentence.—
(1) In general.—In sentencing an accused under section 853 of this title (article 53), a court-martial shall impose punishment that is sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to promote justice and to maintain good order and discipline in the armed forces, taking into consideration—
(A)
the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the accused;
(B) the impact of the offense on—
(i)
the financial, social, psychological, or medical well-being of any victim of the offense; and
(ii)
the mission, discipline, or efficiency of the command of the accused and any victim of the offense;
(C) the need for the sentence—
(i)
to reflect the seriousness of the offense;
(ii)
to promote respect for the law;
(iii)
to provide just punishment for the offense;
(iv)
to promote adequate deterrence of misconduct;
(v)
to protect others from further crimes by the accused;
(vi)
to rehabilitate the accused; and
(vii)
to provide, in appropriate cases, the opportunity for retraining and return to duty to meet the needs of the service; and
(D)
the sentences available under this chapter.
(2) Sentencing by military judge.—
In announcing the sentence in a general or special court-martial in which the accused is sentenced by a military judge alone under section 853 of this title (article 53), the military judge shall, with respect to each offense of which the accused is found guilty, specify the term of confinement, if any, and the amount of the fine, if any. If the accused is sentenced to confinement for more than one offense, the military judge shall specify whether the terms of confinement are to run consecutively or concurrently.
(3) Sentencing by members.—
In a general or special court-martial in which the accused has elected sentencing by members, the court-martial shall announce a single sentence for all of the offenses of which the accused was found guilty.
(4) Sentence of confinement for life without eligibility for parole.—
(A)
If an offense is subject to a sentence of confinement for life, a court-martial may impose a sentence of confinement for life without eligibility for parole.
(B) An accused who is sentenced to confinement for life without eligibility for parole shall be confined for the remainder of the accused’s life unless—
(i) the sentence is set aside or otherwise modified as a result of—
(I)
action taken by the convening authority or the Secretary concerned; or
(II)
any other action taken during post-trial procedure and review under any other provision of subchapter IX of this chapter;
(ii)
the sentence is set aside or otherwise modified as a result of action taken by a Court of Criminal Appeals, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, or the Supreme Court; or
(iii)
the accused is pardoned.
(d) Appeal of Sentence by the United States.—
(1) With the approval of the Judge Advocate General concerned, and consistent with standards and procedures set forth in regulations prescribed by the President, the Government may appeal a sentence to the Court of Criminal Appeals, on the grounds that—
(A)
the sentence violates the law; or
(B)
the sentence is plainly unreasonable, as determined in accordance with standards and procedures prescribed by the President.
(2)
An appeal under this subsection must be filed within 60 days after the date on which the judgment of a court-martial is entered into the record under section 860c of this title (article 60c).

Historical and Revision Notes

Revised section

Source (U.S. Code)

Source (Statutes at Large)

856

50:637.

May 5, 1950, ch. 169, § 1 (Art. 56), 64 Stat. 126.

The word “may” is substituted for the word “shall”.

Amendments

2017—Subsec. (d)(1). Pub. L. 115–91, § 531(e)(1), inserted “and consistent with standards and procedures set forth in regulations prescribed by the President,” after “concerned,” in introductory provisions.

Subsec. (d)(1)(B). Pub. L. 115–91, § 531(e)(2), inserted “, as determined in accordance with standards and procedures prescribed by the President” before period at end.

2016—Pub. L. 114–328 amended section generally. Prior to amendment, section related to maximum and minimum sentencing limits.

2013—Pub. L. 113–66 substituted “Maximum and minimum limits” for “Maximum limits” in section catchline, designated existing provisions as subsec. (a), and added subsec. (b).

Effective Date of 2017 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 115–91 effective immediately after the amendments made by div. E (§§ 5001–5542) of Pub. L. 114–328 take effect as provided for in section 5542 of that Act (10 U.S.C. 801 note), see section 531(p) of Pub. L. 115–91, set out as a note under section 801 of this title.

Effective Date of 2016 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 114–328 effective on Jan. 1, 2019, as designated by the President, with implementing regulations and provisions relating to applicability to various situations, see section 5542 of Pub. L. 114–328 and Ex. Ord. No. 13825, set out as notes under section 801 of this title.

Effective Date of 2013 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 113–66 effective 180 days after Dec. 26, 2013, and applicable to offenses specified in subsec. (b)(2) of this section committed on or after that date, see section 1705(c) of Pub. L. 113–66, set out as a note under section 818 of this title.

Guidelines on Sentences for Offenses Committed Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice

Pub. L. 116–92, div. A, title V, § 537, Dec. 20, 2019, 133 Stat. 1363, provided that:

“(a) Development of Guidelines.—
Not later than the date specified in subsection (d), the Secretary of Defense shall develop nonbinding guidelines on sentences for offenses under chapter 47 of title 10, United States Code (the Uniform Code of Military Justice). The guidelines shall provide the sentencing authority with a suggested range of punishments, including suggested ranges of confinement, that will generally be appropriate for a violation of each offense under such chapter.
“(b) Sentencing Data.—
In developing the guidelines for sentences under subsection (a), the Secretary of Defense shall take into account the sentencing data collected by the Military Justice Review Panel pursuant to section 946(f)(2) of title 10, United States Code (article 146(f)(2) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice).
“(c) Submittal to Congress.—Not later than the date specified in subsection (d), the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives
“(1)
the guidelines for sentences developed under subsection (a); and
“(2)
an assessment of the feasibility and advisability of implementing such guidelines in panel sentencing cases.
“(d) Date Specified.—
The date specified in this subsection is the date that is not later than one year after the date on the which the first report of the Military Justice Review Panel is submitted to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives pursuant to section 946(f)(5) of title 10, United States Code (article 146(f)(5) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice).”