UCMJ Article 120

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UCMJ Article 120 Military Defense Attorney

Sexual assault is a serious criminal offense that will not be tolerated by military or civilian law. Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) identifies these offenses, makes them unlawful, and establishes punishments for service members who are found guilty of them. It also discusses how consent is defined.

Cases involving military law are already complicated, but they can become even more so when another person is harmed. Any service members who have been accused of violating UCMJ Article 120 should seek the aid of a defense attorney as soon as possible.

UCMJ Article 120

Colorado UCMJ Defense Lawyer

The UCMJ is the basis of military law. If your lawyer does not have knowledge of the UCMJ, there is no way that they can help you through a case involving military offenses. Luckily, at The Law Center P.C., our firm offers representation for service members facing certain UCMJ violations. Our adept attorneys have extensive insight into military law, which helps us evaluate your case and form a defense that represents you and your rights as a service member. Any military personnel who believe that they are being falsely accused of sexual assault should talk to The Law Center P.C. for legal counsel.

What Is Consent?

Consent is an essential component of any sexual assault case. If consent did not exist between both parties, then it can most likely be inferred that the situation involved sexual assault. In UCMJ Article 120, consent is defined as a voluntary agreement to a certain matter. Consent is critical in intimate and physical relationships to ensure that both parties involved are okay with what is going on.

Article 120 also notes that the following situations do not equal consent:

  • Lack of Resistance: Just because an individual did not push back or say no does not mean that they were okay with what was happening.
  • Lack of Consent or Conduct: If there is a lack of consent or conduct that blatantly says yes to the situation, it does not equal consent.
  • Someone Is Sleeping, Unconscious, or Unable to Speak: If someone is not able to clearly consent for themselves, you cannot assume that it is there.
  • Submission Obtained by Force: If someone ultimately ends up saying yes because they were forced or threatened into doing so, that is not consent.
  • Past or Current Relationships: Just because two parties had a consensual past relationship does not mean that all future relations will be consensual.
  • The Way Someone Is Dressed: The clothing that a person wears does not indicate their consent.

Article 120: Sexual Assault and Rape Charges

Any violation of UCMJ Article 120 is taken seriously in a court-martial. This is because the armed forces are meant to help each other up, not tear each other down. Military law states that sexual assault occurs when an individual commits a sexual act on a party who did not consent. Sexual assault can include circumstances like:

  • Committing a sexual act on someone who did not consent
  • Committing a sexual act on someone who did not have the ability to consent (i.e., was asleep, unconscious, intoxicated, or disabled)
  • Forcing someone with threats or violence to comply with sexual orders
  • Making fraudulent claims that the sexual act is for a legitimate purpose

To be charged with rape in violation of Article 120, a service member must be found guilty of committing a sexual act against someone while using:

  • Unlawful, excessive force
  • Using excessive force that could result in serious injury or death
  • Threatening or making someone fear for their life, their immediate safety, or their welfare
  • Beating an individual unconscious
  • Using dangerous substances without the consent of another individual to render them unconscious and take advantage of them

FAQs About UCMJ Article 120 Military Defense Law

What Is the Maximum Punishment for an Article 120 Violation?

The punishment that you end up receiving for an Article 120 violation will depend on what the offense was and what behavior was involved. For defendants charged with violent rape, they can receive an incarceration sentence for the rest of their lives. Other sexual assault punishments can range from 10 to 30 years in jail, in addition to losing your military pay and benefits.

Should You Hire a Military Defense Attorney for Article 120 Cases?

It is strongly recommended that all military personnel facing UCMJ violations hire a lawyer who can protect their rights. Article 120 cases, in particular, can involve intense conflicts and harsh punishments due to the weight of the situations involved. If you or someone you know is dealing with an Article 120 case, do not wait to hire a private attorney who can work to represent you.

What Does It Mean When Someone Is “Incapable” of Consenting?

Consent is when an individual actively agrees to a question or matter that is brought up to them. There are multiple circumstances where an individual is incapable of consenting. This can include when an individual does not have the capacity to understand the nature of the question they are being asked or if they do not have the physical capability to show signs of approval.

Can You Be Charged With a UCMJ Violation When You’re a Veteran?

Generally, veterans cannot be court-martialed and tried for an offense once they have been discharged. However, if an offense was discovered after a veteran was discharged, and the state would like to prosecute them, they may have to recall the individual to active duty or jump through complicated obstacles to prosecute them for an older charge. The UCMJ does not apply to any behavior that occurs once a veteran is discharged.

Legal Representation for Members of the Armed Forces

Any case involving sexual misconduct must be approached with care and thorough attention. At The Law Center P.C., we have spent years formulating our services to properly assist our clients and their individual legal needs. From estate planning to military defense, The Law Center P.C. offers professional services for the people who need them most. For skilled guidance on UCMJ violations in Colorado, reach out to The Law Center P.C. to talk to a lawyer and schedule a consultation.


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