Military Defense Attorney for Article 120a Mails: Deposit of Obscene Matter

Article 120a is a category of sexual misconduct under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) which narrowly applies to mailing obscene material. Article 120a makes no distinction as to whether the recipient of the obscene content consented to its transmission. Any active duty or reserve service member can face charges under Article 120a. Like other Article 120 offenses, the sexual nature of Article 120a makes it a serious offense which will require a vigorous defense. Under previous versions of the UCMJ, Article 120a was the statute which prohibits stalking. Stalking is now prohibited under Article 130.

The definition of what material constitutes “obscenity” can vary from person to person. Obscenity is defined by the UCMJ as a “form of immorality relating to sexual impurity which is grossly vulgar and repugnant to common propriety and tends to excite sexual desire or deprave morals with respect to sexual relations. The matter must violate community standards of decency and must go beyond customary limits of expression. The community standards of decency are judged according to a reasonable person in the military community, rather than the most prudish or the most tolerant members of the military community.”

To give some examples, a service member mailing a romantic letter to his or her spouse would almost certainly not be in violation of Article 120a. A military defense attorney would have a strong case against a prosecutor trying to enforce such a prudish standard. A service member who mails a package containing bodily fluids or undergarments to a purchaser for his or her sexual pleasure would be at greater risk of being guilty of an Article 120a violation. The mailing of hardcore pornographic material is another example which may violate Article 120a. An experienced military defense attorney can parse the details to craft an argument which challenges the allegations against you.

Article 120a prohibits service members from sending by mail any material containing sexually explicit content that would violate a common or community sense of decency. The prosecution of this offense depends on the military prosecutor being able to prove that most people would
see the material as obscene. An experienced attorney can challenge the prosecution’s claim regarding social standards of decency and obscenity.

To convict a service member of an Article 120a offense, the military prosecutor also must prove that the defendant deposited the mail material with knowledge of the obscene content which it contains. In total, the prosecution must prove that the material was obscene, deposited knowingly, and without legal authorization. These three factors complicate the military prosecutor’s ability to prove their case, and an experienced military defense attorney can poke holes in their story.

Contact Joseph L. Jordan, Attorney at Law for defense from a former service member. 

Penalties for Article 120a charges

While Article 120a is a less serious charge than other offenses under Article 120, its obscene sexual nature still makes it a serious charge which can have life-altering repercussions. Service members convicted under Article 120a can face a maximum punishment of a dishonorable discharge and three years imprisonment.

Service members who receive a dishonorable discharge will lose all military benefits, will forfeit their right to own a firearm, and will likely struggle to find employment. A strong defense from an experienced lawyer can help to lessen the punishment which convicted service members may receive.

Hire Joseph Jordan to help you fight Article 120a charges

Facing an Article 120a charge alone can be difficult. An experienced military lawyer can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case. Joseph Jordan is a former Army Judge Advocate who has a long history of successfully defending service members accused of sexual misconduct. Joseph Jordan has the skills and the experience to challenge the prosecution’s claims and obtain for you a more favorable result. If you are facing charges at court-martial for Article 120a Mails: Deposit of Obscene Matter, consider obtaining the services of Joseph Jordan to help win your case.

Maximum Punishment: The accused faces dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and 3 years confinement as maximum punishment. For more information on this article, please refer to the Manual for Courts Martial.


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Joseph L. Jordan is a UCMJ lawyer who travels around the globe to represent service members in military criminal defense matters. He is an accomplished, experienced military attorney who specializes in defending ALL service members against violations of the UCMJ.