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Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent

Note: This law applies only to Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent offenses committed on and after 1 January 2019.

What is Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent?

Article 120 Ucmj Abusive Sexual Contact Without ConsentAbusive sexual contact without consent under Article 120 UCMJ involves sexual contact obtained through deceit or without the victim’s agreement. Convictions can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment, dishonorable discharge, and mandatory sex offender registration. These charges can devastate personal and professional lives, making securing the best military defense lawyers crucial.

Article 120 UCMJ lawyers are vital in navigating the complexities of military law and ensuring the accused’s rights are protected. They provide robust defense strategies, scrutinize evidence, and work diligently to achieve the best possible outcome, minimizing the harsh consequences of a conviction.

For those facing such serious allegations, immediate legal assistance is essential to protect one’s future and reputation. The complexities and severe repercussions of Article 120 charges necessitate skilled legal representation to ensure fair treatment and a strong defense.

What are the Elements of Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent?

  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. (2) That the accused did so without the consent of (victim).

Note: The maximum and minimum punishments for Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent (Abusive Sexual Contact) vary depending on the date of the offense.

In the military, the crime of Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent, 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 Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent?

For Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent 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 Without Consent committed after 27 Dec 2023

  • Under the Sentencing Parameters, Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent, 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 Without Consent

In that COL Richard Troutman, US Marine Corps, did, at or near Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, on or about 6 May 2025, touch through the clothing scrotum of LCpl Billy Paine, with an object, to wit: a vibrator with an intent to degrade LCpl Billy Paine without the consent of LCpl Billy Paine.

What are the Definitions for Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent?

“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.

Marriage. Marriage is not a defense to any offense violating Article 120 Abusive Sexual Contact without Consent. If necessary, include the following instruction: Marriage is not a defense to this offense.

If Evidence of Consent to Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent has Been Raised, then the Military Judge Will Give the Following Instructions:

Article 120 Ucmj Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent Military Defense LawyersEvidence of consent in Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent cases. Consent is a defense to Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent. 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 concerning 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 Without Consent

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 there is 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 by itself 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.

Is Mistake of Fact a Legal Defense for Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent?

The military judge must determine whether a mistake of fact has been raised by the evidence in a Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent case. See RCM 916(j). Mistake of fact as to consent is a legal defense to Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent. 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 about 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 Without Consent

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” 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 and Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent. Suppose there is evidence of the accused’s voluntary intoxication. In that case, 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” and Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent. 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 concerning whether the accused “knew or reasonably should have known” the alleged victim’s state.

The evidence has raised the issue of voluntary intoxication about the offense(s) of (state the alleged offense(s)). Concerning (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.

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, and the other evidence in the case.

Burden of Proof and Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent

The burden of proof is on the prosecution to establish the accused’s guilt. 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.

Final Instructions on Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent

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

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 Without Consent

A military member convicted of Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent 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 Without Consent Military Defense Lawyers

If you are suspected or accused of Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent, 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 Without Consent?

Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) addresses sexual misconduct within the military, including the serious offense of abusive sexual contact without consent. This provision is designed to uphold the standards of conduct expected of military personnel and protect all service members’ rights and dignity.

Understanding Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent

Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent encompasses a range of sexual offenses, including rape, sexual assault, and abusive sexual contact. Specifically, abusive sexual contact without consent is defined under this article as engaging in sexual contact with another person without their consent. The term “sexual contact” includes intentional touching, either directly or through clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks, with the intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, or degrade any person or to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.

Basics of Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent

For a conviction under Article 120 UCMJ for abusive sexual contact without consent, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The accused engaged in sexual contact with another person.
  • The contact was without the consent of the other person.

Consequences of Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent Conviction

A conviction for abusive sexual contact without consent under Article 120 UCMJ carries significant penalties, reflecting the serious nature of the offense. Potential consequences include:

  • Dishonorable discharge from the military.
  • Imprisonment can vary in length depending on the circumstances and severity of the offense.
  • Forfeiture of all pay and allowances.
  • Mandatory registration as a sex offender.

Collateral Consequences of Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent

Beyond the immediate penalties, a conviction for abusive sexual contact without consent can have profound collateral consequences that extend far beyond the term of imprisonment. These include:

  • Employment Challenges: A dishonorable discharge and sex offender registration can severely limit job opportunities, particularly in fields requiring background checks or security clearances.
  • Social Stigma: The nature of the offense and the requirement to register as a sex offender can lead to social ostracism and isolation.
  • Residency Restrictions: Convicted individuals may face restrictions on where they can live, often being prohibited from residing near schools, parks, or other areas frequented by children.
  • Loss of Civil Rights: Convicted sex offenders often lose certain civil rights, such as the right to vote or own firearms.
  • Mental Health Impact: The legal process and the consequences of a conviction can cause significant stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues, requiring ongoing psychological support.

The Importance of Legal Representation for Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent

Given the severe penalties and lasting consequences of a conviction under Article 120 UCMJ for abusive sexual contact without consent, it is essential to have skilled legal representation. An experienced military defense lawyer can provide critical support by:

  • Conducting a thorough investigation of the allegations to uncover exculpatory evidence.
  • Challenging the credibility of witnesses and the reliability of the prosecution’s evidence.
  • Developing a robust defense strategy tailored to the specifics of the case.
  • Negotiating with prosecutors to seek reduced charges or favorable plea agreements.
  • Advocating for the accused’s rights and interests throughout the court-martial process.

Further Legal Considerations for Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent

Several additional legal considerations are important when facing charges under Article 120 UCMJ:

  • Presumption of Innocence: The accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty, ensuring that the burden of proof lies with the prosecution.
  • Right to a Fair Trial: The accused has the right to a fair trial, including the right to legal representation, the right to confront witnesses, and the right to present evidence in their defense.
  • Defense Strategies: Potential defense strategies might include lack of intent, consent, mistaken identity, or challenging the procedural aspects of the investigation and trial.

Court Martial  Lawyers for Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent

Article 120 UCMJ’s provision on abusive sexual contact without consent is a serious offense with severe and far-reaching consequences. Understanding the elements of the offense and the potential penalties is crucial for anyone involved in a military criminal case. The importance of having knowledgeable legal representation cannot be overstated, as it can significantly impact the outcome of the case and the future of the accused.

If you or someone you know is facing charges under Article 120 UCMJ Abusive Sexual Contact Without Consent, it is imperative to seek legal assistance immediately. The stakes are high, and having a dedicated defense lawyer can make a critical difference in the defense strategy and the case’s ultimate resolution.

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