Newport Beach Article 120 UCMJ
When allegations of sexual assault, rape, or sexual misconduct of any kind come up, your whole life can come to a halt. These allegations can impact your military career, your family life, your friendships, and other relationships, as well as your professional trajectory. In the best of outcomes, you could be facing anything from a dark mark on your reputation and a reprimand. In the worst outcomes, charges could result in serious prison time.1 You likely feel scared, humiliated, and even unsure of how to ask others to stand as witnesses to your character.
That’s why you don’t just need to win your case but to have the truth come to light to restore your reputation that has been defamed. While Aaron Meyer Law has the utmost respect for real victims of sexual assault and other crimes, it seems easier than ever for service members to be falsely accused or for gross misunderstandings to take place. One could go as far as to say that the current climate calls for engagement in “victim worship” that doesn’t always closely examine the truth. That’s why if you or someone you love are facing charges or allegations under Article 120 UCMJ, you need quality legal counsel and care from someone like Aaron Meyer.
Experienced Military Legal Defense from Rape and Sexual Assault Charges
As a former Marine and a seasoned, undefeated defense trial attorney, he knows these cases, and he will fight for you. To read about similar cases, check out these testimonials from recent clients.
What Is Article 120 UCMJ?
Article 120 UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) is a section of the code that broadly examines rape, sexual abuse, and sexual assault charges for people serving in the military. It outlines what constitutes these crimes and the range of punitive sentences or consequences that are deemed appropriate by the legal system in the Armed Forces. These punishments range from reductions in rank and other moderate consequences, all the way to major military prison time and a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge. Needless to say, any of these sentences could be life-changing for the worse for an American soldier and his or her family. This article breaks down the major elements of the code, possible outcomes, and why you need legal counsel.
The 8 Main Criminal Offenses Under Article 120 UCMJ
The following are the main criminal offenses dealt with in Article 120 of the UCMJ:
- Rape that does not involve penetration
- Rape that involves penetration
- Sexual assault that does not involve penetration
- Sexual assault that does involve penetration
- Aggravated sexual contact that includes touching genitals, the inner thigh area, buttocks, or anus of any person
- Aggravated sexual contact that involves touching any body part of another person
- Abusive sexual contact that includes touching genitals, the inner thigh area, buttocks, or anus of any person
- Abusive sexual contact that involves touching any body part of another person
Though the lines between these different types of allegations are thin, they are distinct and carry different consequences for each. In the actual text of Article 120 UCMJ, the details are outlined even more explicitly than above to offer ultimate clarity for what is or is not a violation.
Nevertheless, these situations, more often than not, get extremely messy because it is typically a “their word against mine” scenario with few or no witnesses.
Consequences for Offenses Article 120
There are three major consequences for crimes under Article 120 if convicted, including:
- A prison/brig sentence ranging from seven years to life
- A dishonorable discharge (DD) and the permanent mark on your military and civilian reputation
- The permanent and complete loss of VA health insurance and benefits, pension, and military pay
Four Major Categories Under Article 120 UCMJ
There are four major categories of Article 120. While similar in nature, the different categories carry distinctly different outcomes and may benefit from wildly different trial tactics. From the most serious to the least, those categories are rape, sexual assault, aggravated sexual contact, and abusive sexual contact. Though the differences go into great and explicit detail, it is important to know that aggravated sexual assault is classified by physical abuse taking place in a sexual context, while abusive sexual contact could only be abusive in verbal nature, but in a sexual context.
Potential Legal Defense Tactics Used in Article 120 Cases
Aaron Meyer Law’s ultimate goal is to tailor the best defense for each case and client. Aaron Meyer understands that Article 120 UCMJ cases have become even more cumbersome, complex, and potentially devastating in recent years. Though this list is not exhaustive, these are three common legal tactics:
- Forensic Evidence. This aims to prove in the courtroom that forensic evidence does not back up the allegation concretely, if at all.
- Witness Preparation. This allows character and event witnesses to be prepared for a grueling cross-examination from the prosecution, who will stop at nothing to villainize the defendant.
- Sentence Reduction. In some scenarios, true wrongdoing has occurred, but the sentence or extent of the charges or allegations are grossly extreme due to personal targeting or an overreach of the military legal system. This strategy aims to make the punishment fit the crime more appropriately.
The Best Legal Counsel for Article 120 Cases
If you or someone you love is facing an allegation or charge under Article 120, rest assured that all hope is not lost. Aaron Meyer is experienced and undefeated in the courtroom. His firm is ready to hear your situation. Serving Southern California and the greater military community, Aaron Meyer is a former Marine Officer and JAG, honorably discharged in 2014 when he went into private practice. He has the inside military knowledge and uniquely understands servicemen and women. Yet, he also benefits from being outside of the red tape of the system that often hamstrings attorneys still wearing the uniform. Don’t wait — reach out for the help you need by contacting Aaron Meyer Law today.