According to the Uniform Military Code of Justice Article 120, aggravated sexual assault is the crime of a person engaging in unwanted sexual conduct with another person through use of force, fear, threats or bodily harm. This crime is a lesser crime than rape, but still holds immense penalties if you are found guilty. It is important to know that if you are arrested your career, rank, military and civilian life will all be greatly changed.

If you have been charged with aggravated sexual assault, you need to immediately contact Joseph L. Jordan, Attorney at Law and retain the representation of an experienced and aggressive military defense attorney.


​​​​​Numerous aggravated sexual assault reports have surfaced over the last few years and the amount of evidence has demanded a reform and harsher penalties for individuals convicted of aggravated sexual assault. These incidents are not just isolated to one particular area of the military; all branches and people of all ranks could be charged with this offense.

Aggravated sexual assault is not just limited to adults over the age of 18 either - you could be charged with sexual assault of a child or aggravated sexual contact as well. If you are convicted of these charges, you could face up to 30 years in confinement with forfeiture of all allowances and military pay and be dishonorably discharged from your rank and branch of the military.


At Joseph L. Jordan, Attorney at Law, we provide representation to military personnel charged with aggravated sexual assault throughout the world. Whether you are a Marine, airman, guardsmen, solider or sailor stationed anyone in the world, you can rely on Joseph L. Jordan, Attorney at Law to provide you with outstanding representation. We are strong advocates of defending our military and we will challenge all evidence and ensure that your side of the story is told. You have actively served your country; now let us serve you.


Sexual assault claims among military service members are alarmingly high. According to the 2018 Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, 20,500 active-duty service members reported experiencing sexual assault or rape, including about 13,000 women and 7,500 men. This indicates that 6.2 percent of female and 0.7 percent of male service members experienced sexual assault. Service members who are young, just entering the military, or being transferred to a new duty station are particularly vulnerable.

By comparison, the 2018 Uniform Crime Report estimated that nearly 140,000 rapes were reported to US law enforcement that year. This indicates that 0.04 percent of the civilian population experienced sexual assault.


Despite the DoD’s continued efforts to reduce sexual violence in the military, service members of both genders face a disproportionately high chance of being sexually assaulted than the general population. Many have speculated as to why this is.

Military Culture

The root causes of military sexual assault mirror those of the civilian population, but military culture exacerbates many of them. For instance, the military promotes gender stereotypes by having a patriarchal structure and emphasizing masculine ideals like dominance, aggression, self-sufficiency, and risk-taking. This can create the “image of some men as sexually violent predators and women as sexual victims,” says Professor Elizabeth Hillman of the University of California Hastings College of Law.

Combined with power differentials between the genders and the military culture of homophobia, this can lead hyper-masculine men to prove their masculinity through inappropriate sexual behavior. Soldiers often learn to limit their empathy to complete combat duties, and some may apply this to their uniformed peers, making it easier to commit sexual assaults.

Hillman also argues that “because of the dramatic and well-publicized extent of military-on-military sexual violence, it has become normalized in military culture, even as changes in military demographics, law, and policy have raised awareness of, and punishments for, military sexual violence.”

All-Volunteer Military

The US military comprises volunteers. The reasons soldiers enlist vary, but economic motivations are common and well-understood. After all, the military is a path out of poverty and dead-end jobs for poor Americans.

What is less commonly discussed is that many soldiers enlist to escape a violent or troubled home life. According to two studies of Army and Marine recruits conducted in 1996 and 2005, 50 percent of male enlistees were physically abused as children, 16 percent were sexually abused, and 11 percent experienced both types of abuse. This is a significant finding because abused children often grow up to be abusers.

The military has exacerbated this problem by increasing the number of “moral waivers” it grants recruits. This allows more applicants with records of domestic and sexual violence to join the military, where they may become repeat offenders.

Command Climates

The odds of sexual assault are higher for members serving under a commanding officer who takes less responsibility for preventing sexual assault, encouraging reporting, or promoting a mutually respectful climate between genders. Placing a callous, entitled, and remorseless person in this environment, where few external barriers temper their sexual aggression, can contribute to an increased risk of sexual assault.

Leadership Structures

In the military, sexual assaults are handled within the chain of command, giving a victim’s commanding officer the ability to intervene at any point. The commander may choose to halt investigations, reduce sentences, or set aside convictions, with no requirement to attend trials or offer public explanations for these decisions.

Such actions are common because the military leadership structure incentivizes commanders to avoid pursuing sexual assault allegations within their ranks. After all, commanders are responsible for maintaining order and discipline. If an assault occurs on their watch, it looks bad and could affect their chance for future promotion. Therefore, many commanders are compelled to ensure sexual assault doesn’t happen in their units—at least, not on paper.

Unhealthy Work Climates

Most service members enjoy relatively healthy unit climates. However, according to the DoD’s 2018 findings, women who report sexual harassment, gender discrimination, workplace hostility, lack of unit cohesion, and/or lack of personal responsibility in their unit are three times more at risk for sexual assault. And while men have a lower risk than women, males who report sexual harassment are 12 times more at risk for sexual assault.

Military Living Arrangements

Co-ed dorms and barracks are high-risk areas for sexual assault. Leadership should make significant efforts to enhance the safety of all occupants.


Police and other legal authorities believe many sexual assault and harassment cases go unreported, both among civilians and in the military. In 2018, the DoD estimated that about one in three victims of sexual assault reported the incident, an improvement over the 2006 estimate of one in 14 victims coming forward. Consider these common reasons victims may choose not to report sexual assault:

  • They want to forget about it and move on.
  • They don’t want others to know about it.
  • They fear blame and retaliation.
  • Their resilience training prevents them from wanting to seek help.
  • They don’t want to be seen as a troublemaker, disruptor, or betrayer of their unit.

On the other hand, victims have plenty of good reasons to report the incident to the proper authorities. Here are a few examples:

  • They want to stop the alleged offender from hurting anyone else.
  • They want to prevent being victimized by the alleged offender again.
  • Someone encouraged them to report the incident.

What about false allegations? While legitimate sexual assault and rape cases should be taken seriously, the idea that no one is ever falsely accused is preposterous. Some reasons why alleged victims may falsely accuse another of sexual assault include:

  • They have false memories of the event due to substance use or another reason.
  • They bend the truth to deny a consensual encounter or create an alibi.
  • They intentionally fabricate a story for revenge, for monetary gain, to get attention, or out of mental instability.


Everyone talks about the fear of being sexually assaulted while serving in the military, but the fear of being falsely accused is also a genuine concern. After all, victims who report abuse are not the only ones who may encounter retaliation. The falsely accused also face potential ostracism, dishonorable discharge, and forfeiture of all pay, allowances, and veteran benefits. In short, a false accusation can ruin a person’s military career and personal life.

If you have been accused of sexual assault in the military, turn to Joseph L. Jordan, Attorney at Law, a military criminal defense lawyer who can vigorously represent your case. Mr. Jordan is a former JAG officer who has successfully defended service members against rape and sexual assault charges for over a decade. To speak directly with Mr. Jordan about your case, call us toll-free at 800-580-8034 or 254-853-0064 today.


Sexual assault in the military is a serious crime with profound consequences for both the victims and the alleged perpetrators. Sexual misconduct not only undermines the trust and camaraderie essential for military units to function effectively, but it also tarnishes the reputation of the armed forces.

For these reasons, the United States military has taken significant steps in recent years to address sexual assault, including implementing strict guidelines, punishments, and resources for those affected. Learn more about sexual assault in the military and the potential penalties for those convicted of such crimes.


Sexual misconduct is covered in Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The article encompasses several distinct offenses:

  • Rape is unlawful sexual penetration without consent obtained by force, threat of force, fraud, rendering the person unconscious or incapable of controlling their actions, or other means.
  • Sexual assault is unlawful sexual contact or act without consent obtained through force, threat of force, fraud, misrepresentation of identity, or other means.
  • Aggravated sexual assault is similar to rape but without evidence of penetration. It involves sexual contact without consent when the victim is unconscious, substantially incapacitated, or otherwise unable to provide consent.
  • Aggravated sexual contact is unlawful sexual contact without consent involving force or threat of force, or when the victim is substantially incapacitated or otherwise unable to provide consent.
  • Abusive sexual contact is unlawful sexual contact without consent, involving no use of force or threat of force, but nonetheless, without the victim’s consent.


When a service member is accused of sexual assault, the military conducts a thorough investigation to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged incident. This may include interviewing witnesses, collecting evidence, and consulting legal and medical professionals.

If the evidence supports the allegation, the accused is charged with the appropriate offense under Article 120 and must attend an Article 32 hearing, similar to a civilian grand jury hearing. At this proceeding, a military judge determines whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed with a non-judicial punishmentcourt-martial, or administrative separation from the military.

If you are accused of sexual assault in the military, seek professional legal representation immediately. You have the right to an attorney, just like an accused civilian, and it’s important for you to exercise this right and protect your legal interests.


Service members accused of sexual assault may argue their innocence in several ways, including:

  • Alibi: An alibi defense involves proving that you were not present when and where the sexual assault allegedly occurred. This powerful defense requires evidence that you were elsewhere at the time, such as video footage, witnesses, or other records.
  • Mistaken identity: The victim may have been under duress or trauma and mistaken you for someone else. In such cases, you may be able to provide evidence that supports your claim of mistaken identity.
  • Lack of convincing evidence: If the prosecution cannot produce sufficient evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, you may be acquitted. After all, you are innocent until proven guilty, and the burden of proof lies with the prosecution.
  • Consent: If the sexual incident was consensual, you may be able to argue that you did not commit sexual assault. In such cases, you must provide evidence that the victim willingly participated.
  • Insanity: You may be able to use mental incompetence as a valid defense against sexual assault charges. Just know that insanity defenses are rare and require a high standard of proof. Consult a mental health professional and an experienced military lawyer if you plan to use this defense.

Note that some defenses are not valid. For instance, you can’t claim that alcohol clouded your judgment. Alcohol consumption does not excuse criminal behavior, so you will still be held accountable for your actions.

Being married to the victim is also not a viable defense against sexual assault charges. You must understand the boundaries of consent in any sexual encounter, regardless of the relationship between the parties involved.


Service members convicted of sexual misconduct face severe maximum penalties:

  • Rape and sexual assault: Convicted service members may face a dishonorable discharge or bad conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and up to life in prison without parole.
  • Aggravated sexual assault: Those convicted of this sexual crime may face a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for up to 30 years.
  • Aggravated sexual contact: Convicted individuals may face a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for up to 20 years.
  • Abusive sexual contact: Service members convicted of abusive sexual contact may face a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for up to 7 years.

Service members who receive a dishonorable discharge lose their veteran benefits and forfeit the right to own firearms. They also often struggle to find employment, a vital aspect of adjusting to civilian life after leaving the military.


Being charged with sexual assault can greatly affect your personal life and military career. Even your family may suffer a long ordeal culminating in a final verdict that must be respected and accepted. But it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom—a qualified military lawyer can protect your rights, even when all fingers are firmly pointed in your direction.

Joseph L. Jordan, Attorney at Law, is a military criminal defense lawyer with over a decade of experience fighting for the rights of servicemen and women stationed at home and abroad. As a former Army JAG officer, Mr. Jordan can provide exceptional legal counsel and challenge the prosecution’s claims. With a passionate military defense attorney by your side, you won’t carry the burden of building your case alone. Call us toll-free at 800-580-8034 or 254-853-0064 to speak directly with Mr. Jordan about defending yourself against sexual assault charges.

“I was a company commander falsely accused of sexual assault. I hired Mr. Jordan after being interrogated CID. Mr. Jordan informed me that I would very likely receive a GOMOR and to be patient and fight it during the rebuttal process. This seemed counter-intuitive to me but I put my trust in his advice and waited. After receiving the GOMOR, I worked very closely with one of his paralegals to gather statements, review material, and prepare a rebuttal. The end result was that I was rightly found innocent and the GOMOR was withdrawn and destroyed. God forbid that I ever need a lawyer in defense again while in the military, but if I do I would hire Mr. Jordan's firm without any hesitation.”

- JD

Contact Joseph L. Jordan, Attorney at Law today and schedule a consultation with our experienced and dedicated military defense lawyers today!

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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.