LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Matthew Scott James | Aug 2, 2013

Military Sexual Assault Cases (Article 120 UCMJ)

Sexual assault courts-martials are special cases that require careful handling by aSexual assault courts-martial are special cases that require careful handling by a court-martial defense attorney. If you are charged with any crimes under Article 120 UCMJ, you need to know what to expect.

Any general or special court-martial may also be a sexual assault case under Article 120, UCMJ. Article 120 includes almost any kind of sexual touching, whether or not there is penetrations. It also includes touching someone in a sexual way.

Article 120 cases present special cases. The rules are different. Command pressure is high. Members of Congress have personally spoken out against commander decisions in certain sexual assault cases. They are also one of the most common charges a military member is likely to face.

In a sexual assault case, in addition to the other punishments, you may be required to register as a sex offender. Under Federal law, the minimum is typically for 10 years. Many states also require you to provide your name, address, work address, and a photo. This is typically placed on a website and your neighbors will be notified. There may be limitations on where you can live and work. Depending on the case, you may be required to register for the rest of your life.

Most military members don’t know that you can become a registered sex offender just by touching someone. Many people assume a registered sex offender has been convicted of a child sex offense or a violent rape, but this is usually not the case. If you are convicted on touching someone’s private area, even over clothes, or having sex with someone who was drunk, you will likely become a registered sex offender.

There are many important and special issues involved in a sexual assault case. The complaining witnesses in these cases needed to be handled with care. Eyewitness testimony needs to be analyzed and the issues thoroughly investigated. There are certain tactics and strategies that have been developed by court-martial attorneys over years and many, many cases.

Because of the time required to prepare and the command pressures that may interfere with your court-martial, you may wish to consult with a civilian court-martial attorney. A civilian court-martial attorney cannot be influenced by command channels and can dedicate the time necessary to prepare these high stakes cases.

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