What to Do If Falsely Accused of Military Sexual Assault

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is a strict and complex system governing the lives of United States service members. Accusations of military sexual assault under Article 120 of the UCMJ can devastate your career and reputation. While being falsely accused is a distressing experience, it’s crucial to keep a level head. If you’re thinking clearly, you can take the necessary steps to protect yourself and uphold your rights.

Understanding the UCMJ and Military Sexual Assault

If you have been accused, make sure you understand exactly what military sexual assault entails. Article 120 includes rape, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated sexual contact, abusive sexual contact, and attempts to commit any of these acts. These are serious allegations, typically handled in a general court-martial. This forum addresses the most egregious offenses within the military justice system and offers the widest range of punishments, including dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of pay, and imprisonment.

Punishments for Military Sexual Assault

When accused of sexual assault in the military, it’s important to understand the potential consequences you may face. These include:

  • Dishonorable discharge: As one of the most severe penalties doled out by the military justice system, a dishonorable discharge ends your military career, strips away veterans’ benefits, and leaves a permanent mark on your record. This makes future education and employment in the civilian sector extremely challenging to find.
  • Forfeiture of pay and allowances: A conviction can lead to a total loss of pay and allowances, severely impacting you and your dependents’ financial stability.
  • Confinement: Depending on the nature and severity of the offense, a guilty verdict might lead to imprisonment for a few years, a few decades, or the rest of your life.
  • Reduction in rank: A demotion can significantly affect your career trajectory, retirement benefits, and standing within the military community.
  • Mandatory rehabilitation: Some offenders are required to undergo rehabilitation to address behavior problems and ensure the offense does not recur.

What to Do in Light of False Accusations

The path you take immediately after a false accusation profoundly affects the outcome of your case. Here’s what to do:

  • Stay calm and composed: Panicking can cloud your judgment. Be sure to think rationally and avoid confrontational behavior. Remember, aggression can be misconstrued and used against you.
  • Seek legal counsel immediately: The moment you learn you have been accused, secure a military defense attorney to guide you through this challenging time. Your legal counsel’s experiencedise is invaluable when formulating a robust defense strategy.
  • Document everything: Every detail can be pivotal, no matter how minor it seems. Create a detailed record of the events leading up to, during, and after the alleged incident. Note dates, locations, witnesses, and relevant conversations before your memory fades over time.
  • Avoid discussing the case: The more you speak about your case, the higher the chance of inconsistencies or statements being taken out of context. Be particularly cautious on social media, where posts can be shared and misunderstood. In fact, it’s best not to post anything online while your case is active.
  • Trust the process: It’s natural to feel anxious, but remember, the legal system is designed to uphold justice. Cooperate with your attorney, follow their advice, and stay informed about how your case is progressing.

Know Your Rights and Utilize Your Resources

Every accused service member has certain rights and resources to lean on as they navigate their case. Familiarize yourself with what’s available to help you take the best approach:

  • The right to remain silent: You are not obligated to answer an investigator’s questions or provide statements to reporters. When emotions and anxiety run high, exercising the right to remain silent can prevent unintentional self-incrimination.
  • The right to legal counsel: No matter how severe the accusation, every service member is entitled to an attorney. This can be through military-appointed counsel or an attorney you hire on your own. Consult with this legal professional before making any decisions or statements related to your case.
  • Protection against double jeopardy: The military justice system respects the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution, which states that a person cannot be tried twice for the same offense. Still, double jeopardy in the military is a complicated topic, so ask your defense lawyer for guidance.
  • The right to a speedy trial: Service members have the right to be tried in a timely manner. Prolonged pre-trial confinement or unnecessary delays can be contested on these grounds.
  • Access to evidence: You have the right to see what evidence the prosecution intends to use against you. This includes incriminating evidence and anything that might exonerate you.
  • Resources for support: Beyond legal rights, you can access numerous support systems during your legal ordeal. These include chaplains, mental health professionals, and advocacy groups that provide counseling and guidance.

Partner with a Trusted Military Defense Attorney

Being falsely accused of military sexual assault can feel disorienting and overwhelming, but you don’t have to face it alone. Joseph L. Jordan, Attorney at Law, is a distinguished advocate with a thorough understanding of the UCMJ and an unwavering commitment to service members’ rights. With a proven track record of 17 years of experience, including 12 years of experience on the front lines, Mr. Jordan has defended countless men and women from a wide range of accusations.

Don’t leave your future to chance—call us toll-free at 800-580-8034 or 254-221-6411 to speak directly with Mr. Jordan about the false accusations brought against you.

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