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UCMJ Article 120 Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense

Note: This law applies only to Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense offenses committed on and after 1 January 2019

What is Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense?

Article 120 Ucmj Abusive Sexual Contact By False PretenseAbusive sexual contact by false pretense under Article 120 UCMJ involves deceit to obtain consent for sexual contact. This serious offense can lead to severe penalties, including imprisonment, dishonorable discharge, and mandatory sex offender registration. Accusations carry significant consequences, affecting both personal and professional lives.

When facing such charges, seeking help from the best military defense lawyers is crucial. Article 120 UCMJ lawyers understand the complexities of military law and can provide a robust defense, ensuring the accused’s rights are protected and the best possible outcome is achieved.

What are the Elements of Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense?

  1. That (state the time and place alleged), the accused [committed sexual contact upon] [caused ________ to commit sexual contact upon] (victim) by (state the alleged sexual contact); and
  2. That the accused did so by inducing a belief by artifice, pretense, or concealment that the accused was another person.

Note: The maximum and minimum punishments for UCMJ Article 120 Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense (Abusive Sexual Contact) vary depending on the date of the offense.

In the military, the crime of UCMJ Article 120, Abusive Sexual Contact

by False Pretense, falls under the general offense category of Abusive Sexual Contact. It is one of the more serious offenses under the UCMJ and carries significant mandatory punishments. Offenses committed after December 27, 2023, carry a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 1-36 months (1 month to 3 years). If convicted, the defendant must register as a Federal and State sex offender.

What are the Abusive Sexual Contact Offenses Under Article 120 UCMJ?

What are the Maximum Punishments for Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense, Article 120 UCMJ?

For Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense committed between 1 Jan 2019 and 27 Dec 2023:

  • 7 Years of Confinement
  • Dishonorable Discharge, BCD, Dismissal
  • Total Forfeitures
  • Reduction to E-1
  • Collateral Consequences of a Federal Felony Conviction
  • Collateral Consequences of Registration as a State & Federal Sex Offender

For Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense committed after 27 Dec 2023

  • Under the Sentencing Parameters, Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense, Article 120 UCMJ, is a Category 2 Offense
  • Mandatory confinement ranges from 1-36 months (1 month to 3 years)
  • Dishonorable Discharge, BCD, Dismissal
  • Total Forfeitures
  • Reduction to E-1
  • Collateral Consequences of a Federal Felony Conviction
  • Collateral Consequences of Registration as a State & Federal Sex Offender
  • Note: The Military Judge MAY impose a period of confinement less than the jurisdictional maximum period of confinement upon finding specific facts that warrant such a sentence. Manual for Courts-Martial, United States (2024 ed.), Appendix 12B-C

Combined UCMJ Maximum Punishment Charts

Sample Model Specification: Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense

In that COL Richard Troutman, US Marine Corps, did, at or near Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, on or about 4 July 2025, touch through the clothing scrotum of LCpl Billy Paine, with COL Richard Troutman’s body part, to wit: COL Richard Troutman’s tongue with an intent to harass LCpl Billy Paine, by inducing a belief by (artifice) (pretense) (concealment) that the said accused was another person.

What are the Definitions for Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense?

“Sexual contact” means touching, or causing another person to touch, either directly or through the clothing, the vulva, penis, scrotum, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, or degrade any person or to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person. Touching may be accomplished by any part of the body or an object.

False Pretense. When the sexual contact is alleged by making a False Pretense that it serves a professional purpose, the following may be appropriate:

A “False Pretense” is a representation of fact that the accused knows to be untrue, which is intended to deceive, which does, in fact deceive, and which causes the other person to engage in sexual contact.

The False Pretense that the sexual contact served a professional purpose
need not have been made by the accused to (victim). It is sufficient if the accused made such a False Pretense to any person, which thereby caused (victim) to engage in sexual contact.

Marriage and Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense. Marriage is not a defense to any offense violating UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Contact by Force. If necessary, include the following instruction: Marriage is not a defense to this offense.

The “vulva” is the external genital organs of the female, including the entrance of the vagina and the labia majora and labia minora.

“Labia” is the Latin and medically correct term for “lips.”

If Evidence of Consent to Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense has Been Raised, then the Military Judge Will Give the Following Instructions:

Evidence of consent and Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense. Evidence of the alleged victim’s consent to the sexual conduct may be relevant, even for offenses that do not include “lack of consent” as an element. Evidence of the alleged victim’s consent to the sexual conduct might be introduced with respect to any abusive sexual contact allegation in order to negate the elements of the offense.

Generally, the elements of an Article 120(d) offense require the accused to have committed sexual conduct “ by” a certain method, or “ when” the alleged victim was in a certain state. Stated another way, “ by” means the sexual conduct occurred because of that method, and “ when” means the sexual conduct occurred while the alleged victim was in a state that precluded consent.

Consent to the sexual conduct logically precludes these causal links; when the alleged victim consented, the sexual conduct occurred because of the consent, not because of the charged method. Accordingly, evidence that the alleged victim consented to the sexual conduct may be relevant to negate an element, even though lack of consent may not be a separate element. In such situations the following instruction, properly tailored, would be appropriate.

The evidence has raised the issue of whether (state the alleged victim’s name) consented to the sexual conduct listed in (The) Specification(s) (__________) of (The) (Additional) Charge (___). All of the evidence concerning consent to the sexual conduct is relevant and must be considered in determining whether the government has proven (the elements of the offense) (that the sexual conduct was done by state the element(s) to which the evidence concerning consent relates) beyond a reasonable doubt.

Consent and Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense

Stated another way, evidence the alleged victim consented to the sexual conduct, either alone or in conjunction with the other evidence in this case, may cause you to have a reasonable doubt as to whether the government has proven (every element of the offense) (that the sexual conduct was done by state the element(s) to which the evidence concerning consent relates).

IF CONSENT EVIDENCE HAS BEEN INTRODUCED TO NEGATE OTHER ELEMENTS OF THE CHARGED OFFENSE, GIVE THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTION:

“Consent” means a freely given agreement to the conduct at issue by a competent person. An expression of lack of consent through words or conduct means no consent. Lack of verbal or physical resistance does not constitute consent. Submission resulting from the use of force, threat of force, or placing another person in fear also does not constitute consent. A current or previous dating or social or sexual relationship or the manner of dress of the person involved with the accused in the conduct at issue does not constitute consent.

  • A sleeping, unconscious, or incompetent person cannot consent.
  • A person cannot consent to force causing or likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm.
  • A person cannot consent to being rendered unconscious.
  • A person cannot consent while under threat or in fear.
  • A “competent person” is a person who possesses the physical and mental ability to consent.
  • An “incompetent person” is a person who is incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct at issue, or physically incapable of declining participation in or communicating unwillingness to engage in the sexual act at issue.
  • All the surrounding circumstances are to be considered in determining whether a person
    gave consent.

Mistake of Fact is a Legal Defense for Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense

The military judge must determine whether a mistake of fact has been raised by the evidence. See RCM 916(j). When the evidence has reasonably raised mistake of fact (e.g., mistake of fact as to consent to the sexual conduct), include the following instruction on honest and reasonable mistake of fact. The judge must carefully evaluate the evidence presented by both sides in such cases to determine the applicability of the following instruction. If instructing on an attempted offense, the honest mistake of fact instruction in Instruction 5-11-1 should be given instead of this instruction.

The evidence has raised the issue of mistake of fact in relation to the offense(s) of (state the alleged offense(s)), as alleged in (the) specification(s) (___) of (the) (additional) Charge (___).

There has been (evidence) (testimony) tending to show that, at the time of the alleged offense(s), the accused mistakenly believed that [(state the name of the victim) consented to the sexual conduct alleged] [__________] concerning (this) (these) offense(s).

Mistake of Fact and Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense

Mistake of fact is a defense to (that) (those) charged offense(s).

“Mistake of fact” means the accused held, as a result of ignorance or mistake, an incorrect belief that [the other person consented to the sexual conduct] [__________]. The ignorance or mistake must have existed in the mind of the accused and must have been reasonable under all the circumstances. To be reasonable, the ignorance or mistake must have been based on information, or lack of it, that would indicate to a reasonable person that [the other person consented to the sexual conduct] [__________]. (Additionally, the ignorance or mistake cannot be based on the negligent failure to discover the true facts.

Negligence and Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense

“Negligence” is the absence of due care.

“Due care” is what a reasonably careful person would do under the same or similar circumstances.)

You should consider the inherent probability or improbability of the evidence presented on this matter. You should consider the accused’s (age) (education) (experience) (__________), along with the other evidence in this case (including, but not limited to (here the military judge may specify significant evidentiary factors bearing on the issue and indicate the respective contentions of counsel for both sides)). The prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defense of mistake of fact did not exist. If you are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that, at the time of the charged offense(s), the accused did not believe that [the alleged victim consented to the sexual conduct] [__________], the defense does not exist.

Furthermore, even if you conclude the accused was under a mistaken belief that [the alleged victim consented to the sexual conduct] [__________], if you are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that at the time of the charged offense(s) the accused’s mistake was unreasonable, the defense does not exist.

Voluntary intoxication and mistake of fact. If there is evidence of the accused’s voluntary intoxication, the following instruction is appropriate in conjunction with a mistake of fact instruction: There has been some evidence concerning the accused’s state of intoxication at the time of the alleged offense. On the question of whether the accused’s (ignorance) (belief) was reasonable, you may not consider the accused’s intoxication, if any, because a reasonable (ignorance) (belief) is one that an ordinary, prudent, sober adult would have under the circumstances of this case. Voluntary intoxication does not permit what would be an unreasonable (ignorance) (belief) in the mind of a sober person to be considered reasonable because the person is intoxicated.

Voluntary intoxication and “knew or reasonably should have known.” When the accused is charged with abusive sexual contact of a person who was asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware that the sexual contact was occurring, or a person who was incapable of consenting to the sexual contact, and there is evidence that the accused was intoxicated, the following instruction may be appropriate with respect to whether the accused “knew or reasonably should have known” the alleged victim’s state.

The evidence has raised the issue of voluntary intoxication in relation to the offense(s) of (state the alleged offense(s)). With respect to (that) (those) offense(s), I advised you earlier that the government is required to prove that the accused knew or reasonably should have known that (state the name of the alleged victim) was [asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware that the sexual contact was occurring] [incapable of consenting to the sexual contact(s) due to (impairment by a drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance) (a mental disease or defect, or physical disability)]. In deciding whether the accused had such knowledge, you should consider the evidence of voluntary intoxication.

Final Instruction on Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense

The law recognizes that a person’s ordinary thought process may be materially affected when under the influence of intoxicants. Thus, evidence that the accused was intoxicated may, either alone or together with other evidence in the case, cause you to have a reasonable doubt that the accused had the required knowledge.

On the other hand, the fact that the accused may have been intoxicated at the time of the offense(s) does not necessarily indicate that he/she was unable to have the required knowledge because a person may be drunk yet still be aware at that time of his/her actions and their probable results. In deciding whether the accused had the required knowledge, you should consider the effect of intoxication, if any, as well as the other evidence in the case.

The burden of proof is on the prosecution to establish the guilt of the accused. If you are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused in fact had the required knowledge, the accused will not avoid criminal responsibility because of voluntary intoxication.

However, on the question of whether the accused “reasonably should have known” that (state the name of the person alleged) was [asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware that the sexual contact was occurring] [incapable of consenting to the sexual contact(s) due to (impairment by a drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance) (a mental disease or defect, or physical disability)], you may not consider the accused’s intoxication, if any, because what a person reasonably should have known refers to what an ordinary, prudent, sober adult would have reasonably known under the circumstances of this case.

Reasonable Doubt and Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense

In summary, voluntary intoxication should be considered in determining whether the accused had actual knowledge that (state the name of the person alleged) was [asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware that the sexual contact was occurring] [incapable of consenting to the sexual contact(s) due to (impairment by a drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance) (a mental disease or defect, or physical disability)].

Voluntary intoxication should not be considered in determining whether the accused “reasonably should have known” that (state the name of the person alleged) was [asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware that the sexual contact was occurring] [incapable of consenting to the sexual contact(s) due to (impairment by a drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance) (a mental disease or defect, or physical disability)].

Legal References for Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense

Definition of “vulva.” See US v Williams, 25 MJ 854 (AFCMR 1988) pet. denied, 27 MJ 166 (CMA 1988) and US v. Tu, 30 MJ 587 (ACMR 1990) ; Definition of “competent person.” See US v. Pease, 75 MJ 180 (CAAF 2016).

What are the collateral consequences of having to register as a convicted sex offender?

Sex Offenders Often Cannot Live Near or Visit “Places Where Children Congregate.”
What does that mean? It means a registered sex offender may not be allowed to live near or visit schools, parks and playgrounds, beaches, shopping malls, stores, movie theaters, community centers, places of worship, libraries, recreational facilities, skating rinks, bus stops, and many more.

Potential Collateral Consequences of a Conviction of Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense

A military member convicted of Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense must register as a sex offender. A registered sex offender may suffer the following collateral consequences:
  • Denied housing or difficulty finding housing
  • Loss of family
  • Isolation
  • No educational opportunities
  • Unemployable or difficulty finding employment
  • Physical assault
  • Increased homelessness
  • Harassment
  • Financial hardship
  • Stigmatization
  • The decline in mental health
  • No internet access
  • Deterioration of social bonds
  • Loss of residency
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Social disgrace and humiliation
  • Loss of friends
  • Loss of custody of children
  • Lack of privacy

Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense Military Defense Lawyers

If you are suspected or accused of UCMJ Article 120 Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense, reach out to speak with one of our experienced military court martial lawyers to discuss your best defense strategy.

What is Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense?

Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) encompasses a range of sexual offenses, including abusive sexual contact. Specifically, Article 120(b) addresses the crime of abusive sexual contact by false pretense, an offense that involves deceptive practices to obtain sexual contact without consent. This article aims to inform service members and the broader community about the nature of this offense, its legal ramifications, and the importance of obtaining skilled legal representation if facing such charges.

Understanding Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense

Abusive sexual contact by false pretense under Article 120 UCMJ involves engaging in unwanted sexual contact through deceptive or fraudulent means. False pretense refers to the use of trickery, lies, or misrepresentation to obtain consent for sexual contact that the victim would not have otherwise given.

Basics of Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense

To convict an individual under Article 120 UCMJ for abusive sexual contact by false pretense, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The accused engaged in sexual contact with another person.
  • The sexual contact was obtained through false pretense, meaning the accused used deceit, fraud, or trickery to secure the victim’s consent.
  • The accused’s conduct was wrongful and without legal justification or excuse.

Sexual contact, as defined by the UCMJ, includes any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of gratifying the sexual desire of either party.

Consequences of Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense Conviction

A conviction for abusive sexual contact by false pretense under Article 120 UCMJ can result in severe penalties, reflecting the serious nature of the offense. These penalties may include:

  • Dishonorable discharge from the military.
  • Lengthy confinement, potentially including years of imprisonment.
  • Forfeiture of all pay and allowances.
  • Mandatory registration as a sex offender.

Collateral Consequences of Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense

In addition to the direct legal penalties, individuals convicted of abusive sexual contact by false pretense face significant collateral consequences that can impact their lives long-term:

  • Employment Challenges: A dishonorable discharge and sex offender registration can severely limit employment opportunities, especially in fields requiring security clearances or background checks.
  • Social Stigma: The nature of the offense can lead to social isolation, damaged relationships, and long-lasting stigma within both civilian and military communities.
  • Legal Restrictions: Convicted individuals may face restrictions on residency, travel, and other aspects of their daily lives due to sex offender registration requirements.
  • Mental Health Impact: The stress of legal proceedings and the consequences of a conviction can have significant psychological effects, necessitating ongoing mental health support and counseling.

The Importance of Legal Representation for Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense

Given the severe consequences of a conviction of Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense, it is crucial for anyone accused of abusive sexual contact by false pretense to seek experienced legal representation. A knowledgeable military defense lawyer can:

  • Thoroughly investigate the allegations and gather evidence to build a robust defense.
  • Challenge the prosecution’s evidence and question the credibility of witnesses.
  • Negotiate with prosecutors to seek reduced charges or favorable plea agreements.
  • Advocate for the accused’s rights in court and strive for the best possible outcome.

A skilled defense lawyer understands the intricacies of military law and the unique aspects of court-martial proceedings. They are essential in ensuring that the accused receives a fair trial and that their rights are protected at every stage.

Court Martial Lawyers for Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense

Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact by False Pretense addresses the serious crime of abusive sexual contact by false pretense, imposing severe penalties on those convicted. Understanding the elements of this offense and the potential consequences is vital for anyone involved in a military criminal case. Securing knowledgeable legal representation is imperative, as it can significantly influence the outcome of the case and the future of the accused.

If you or someone you know is facing charges under Article 120 UCMJ for abusive sexual contact by false pretense, it is crucial to seek legal assistance immediately. The consequences of a conviction are profound, impacting every aspect of the individual’s life. Legal assistance is not only a right but a critical element in ensuring justice and fair treatment within the military justice system.

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