Understanding and Defending Against Allegations of Article 120, Sexual Assault
April 20, 2020
The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is the military’s code of law. It covers everything from minor infractions to serious felonies. Article 120 relates specifically to sexual misconduct, including sexual contact, assault, and rape.
Sex crimes always receive harsh punishments, but the sentence could be even more severe if you are enlisted in the military when the crime occurs. If you have been accused of sexual assault under the UCMJ, your military career, liberties, and VA benefits could disappear before your very eyes.
Having the unwavering support of an experienced military lawyer may prove invaluable when defending yourself against your accuser. Choose Joseph L. Jordan, Attorney at Law, to represent you and help obtain an outcome in your favor. Here’s what you need to know about understanding and defending against allegations of sexual assault.
Criminal Offenses Under Article 120
Sexual misconduct includes any unlawful, non-consensual sexual advances or activities upon another person. From least to most egregious, the offenses under Article 120 include:
- Abusive sexual contact: This offense includes touching or threatening to touch the body or private areas of another person against their wishes.
- Aggravated sexual contact: A physical abuse component is present with this offense.
- Sexual assault: Any touching of another person’s body that is deemed sexual in nature can result in this criminal charge. This is especially likely if the victim fears for their safety, suffers bodily harm, does not consent to the act, or cannot consent because they are impaired or asleep.
- Rape: This is defined as sexual penetration without the knowledge or consent of the victim.
Potential Sentences if You are Convicted
The UCMJ has undergone numerous revisions since 2007 that increase the overall scope of what is considered sexual misconduct under Article 120. The severity of punishments for these acts has also increased since then. In all cases, members of the military who are charged with a sex crime must undergo a general court-martial and face a mandatory minimum sentence of dismissal or dishonorable discharge from the military.
Other notable penalties include:
- Decimation of character and reputation, both in and out of the military, making it very difficult to get a job
- Mandatory registration as a sex offender
- Forfeiture of all pay, allowances, and benefits received during military service
- Possible incarceration ranging from seven years to life in prison
Family members of the accused often suffer a long ordeal as well, culminating in a final verdict that could separate the accused from their family for decades. Fortunately, being accused is not the end of the line—your military lawyer can fight against sexual allegations and do everything possible to turn the case in your favor.
Defending Against Allegations of Sexual Assault
Despite the relatively recent additions to Article 120, our military defense lawyer is highly prepared to represent your case. When preparing for trial, we will take the following steps:
- Decide on a defense: Defendants can make one of several claims in court. You might claim innocence if you have an alibi proving you were somewhere else at the time of the assault. You can defend yourself on the grounds of consent, meaning a sexual encounter took place, but the victim agreed to the act. Or you can claim mental incapacity that prevents you from being held criminally liable for your actions.
- Gather credible witnesses: In a classic he said/she said sexual assault trial, it may be your word against your accuser’s. We can take various approaches to lend more credibility to your side of the story, including finding holes in the alleged victim’s statements through strategic cross-examination and securing character witness statements to defend your reputation.
- Counter forensic evidence: Despite what prosecutors may have told you, DNA evidence isn’t necessarily guaranteed to end in a conviction. By hiring our own DNA consultants and speaking with medical experts, we may be able to counter the prosecutor’s forensic evidence.
- Reduce sentencing: Our goal is to secure the best possible outcome in your case. Many times, this means seeking a lesser punishment. For instance, we may be able to help you receive an administrative discharge instead of a punitive one, or five years in prison instead of 15.
Why it’s So Important to Hire a Court Martial Attorney
As a member of the military facing allegations of Article 120, your reputation, career, benefits, and very freedoms are on the line. Even the mere accusation of sexual assault can have a tremendously negative impact on your life. That’s why it’s absolutely critical to have an experienced court-martial attorney by your side.
Contact our military defense lawyer to begin building your case as soon as possible. By working with Joseph L. Jordan, Attorney at Law, you’ll get the best representation possible. This can be a game-changer, the key to delivering the results you want and restoring your rights.
Contact us online or call us toll free at 888-616-6177 or locally at 254-320-9338 for a free Article 120 consultation. We provide legal representation to members of all branches of the military stationed anywhere in the world.