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UCMJ Article 120 Aggravated Sexual Contact by Force Likely to Cause Death or Grievous Bodily Harm

Note: This law applies only to Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact offenses committed on and after 1 January 2019.

What is Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Force Likely to Cause Death or Grievous Bodily Harm?

Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Force Likely to Cause Death or Grievous Bodily HarmAggravated sexual contact under Article 120 of the UCMJ involves sexual contact by force likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm. This offense carries severe penalties, including long-term confinement, dishonorable discharge, and mandatory registration as a sex offender. Convictions can result in lasting personal and professional consequences, such as loss of housing, employment difficulties, and social stigma.

If you are accused of aggravated sexual contact under Article 120 UCMJ, it’s vital to seek legal assistance from the best military defense lawyers possible. Experienced Article 120 UCMJ lawyers can navigate the complexities of military law, challenge the evidence against you, and ensure your rights are protected throughout the legal process. A strong defense is essential to mitigate the severe consequences associated with these charges.

Hiring the best military defense lawyers increases your chances of a favorable outcome by providing a thorough and strategic defense. With their in-depth knowledge of the UCMJ and court-martial procedures, they can effectively advocate on your behalf, aiming to reduce or dismiss the charges.

For those facing accusations under Article 120 UCMJ, securing an experienced military defense lawyer is crucial for protecting your future and maintaining your rights within the military justice system.

What are the Elements of Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Force Likely to Cause Death or Grievous Bodily Harm?

  1. That (state the time and place alleged), the accused [committed sexual contact upon] [caused a sexual contact to be committed upon] (victim), by (state the alleged sexual contact); and

  2. That the accused did so by using force causing or likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm to (state the name of the person alleged), to wit: (state the alleged force).

Note: The maximum and minimum punishments for UCMJ Article 120 Aggravated Sexual Contact by Force Likely to Cause Death or Grievous Bodily Harm (Aggravated Sexual Contact) vary depending on the date of the offense.

In the military, the crime of UCMJ Article 120, Aggravated Sexual Contact by Force Likely to Cause Death or Grievous Bodily Harm, falls under the general offense category of Aggravated 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 30-120 months (Between 2 years and 6 months to 10 years of confinement). If convicted, the defendant must register as a Federal and State sex offender.

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

What are the Maximum Punishments for Aggravated Sexual Contact by Force Likely to Cause Death or Grievous Bodily Harm, Article 120 UCMJ?

Maximum Punishments for Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact committed between 1 Jan 2019 and 27 Dec 2023

  • 20 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

Maximum Punishments for Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact committed after 27 Dec 2023

  • Under the Sentencing Parameters, Aggravated Sexual Contact by Force Likely to Cause Death or Grievous Bodily Harm, Article 120 UCMJ, is a Category 3 Offense
  • Mandatory confinement ranges from 30-120 months (Between 2 years and 6 months to 10 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

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 Aggravated Sexual Contact by Force Likely to Cause Death or Grievous Bodily Harm

A military member convicted of Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Force Likely to Cause Death or Grievous Bodily Harm 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

Sample Model Specification: Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Force Likely to Cause Death or Grievous Bodily Harm

In that ENS Willy Lopez, US Navy, did, at or near Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, on or about 22 May 2024, touch through the clothing, the breast of Jane Victim, with ENS Willy Lopez’s body part, to wit: ENS Willy Lopez’s hand with an intent to arouse the sexual desire of ENS Willy Lopez, by using force likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm to Jane Victim, to wit: strangling Jane Victim’s.

What are the Definitions for Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Force Likely to Cause Death or Grievous Bodily Harm?

“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.

By force causing or likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm. When the sexual contact is alleged by force causing or likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm, include the following instruction:

“Force” means the use of a weapon; the use of such physical strength or violence as is sufficient to overcome, restrain, or injure a person; or inflicting physical harm sufficient to coerce or compel submission by the victim.

“Grievous bodily harm” means serious bodily injury. It includes fractured or dislocated bones, deep cuts, torn members of the body, serious damage to internal organs, and other severe bodily injuries. It does not include minor injuries such as a black eye or a bloody nose.

(The force causing or likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm which caused the alleged victim to engage in the sexual contact need not have been applied by the accused to the alleged victim. It is sufficient if the accused applied such force to an person, which thereby caused the alleged victim to engage in the sexual contact.

Unlawful Force Under Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Force Likely to Cause Death or Grievous Bodily Harm

By unlawful force. When the sexual contact is alleged by unlawful force, include the following instruction:

“Unlawful force” means an act of force done without legal justification or excuse.

“Force” means the use of a weapon; the use of such physical strength or violence as is sufficient to overcome, restrain, or injure a person; or inflicting physical harm sufficient to coerce or compel submission by the victim.

Marriage and Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Force Likely to Cause Death or Grievous Bodily Harm. 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.

What is a Sexual Act in an Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Force Likely to Cause Death or Grievous Bodily Harm Case

“Sexual act” means:

  1. the penetration, however slight, of the penis into the vulva or anus or mouth;
  2. contact between the mouth and the penis, vulva, scrotum, or anus; or
  3. the penetration, however slight, of the vulva or penis or anus of another by any part of the body or any object, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, or degrade any person or to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.

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.”

Suppose Evidence of Consent to Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Force Likely to Cause Death or Grievous Bodily Harm has Been Raised. In that case, the Military Judge Will Give the Following Instruction:

Instructing on consent in Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact case.

The issue of “consent” may arise in two ways.

  1. First, lack of consent is an element when the accused is charged with aggravated sexual contact by administering a drug, intoxicant, or similar substance without the consent of the alleged victim.
  2. Lack of consent is not an element when the accused is charged with aggravated sexual contact by any other method (to include when the accused is charged with administering a drug, intoxicant, or similar substance by force or by threat of force). See US v. Neal, 68 MJ 289, 302-304 (CAAF 2010) (statutory definition of “force” does not imply an element of lack of consent).
  3. Second, evidence of the alleged victim’s consent to the sexual conduct might be introduced concerning any aggravated sexual contact allegation in order to negate the elements of the offense. Generally, the elements of an Article 120(c) offense require the accused to have committed sexual conduct “by” a certain method. Stated another way, “by” means the sexual conduct occurred because of that method.
  4. Consent to the sexual conduct logically precludes that causal link; 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.
  5. If consent evidence has been introduced to negate other elements of the charged offense, give the second parenthetical below, along with the appropriately tailored definitions of consent. If lack of consent to administering a drug, intoxicant, or similar substance is an element of the charged offense, give the first parenthetical below, along with the appropriately tailored definition of consent.

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

(The evidence has (also) raised the issue of whether (state the name of the alleged victim) 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 applicable element).

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 applicable element).

Consent and Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Force Likely to Cause Death or Grievous Bodily Harm

“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.

Dating Relationships and Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Force Likely to Cause Death or Grievous Bodily Harm

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.

Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Force Likely to Cause Death or Grievous Bodily Harm Military Defense Lawyers

If you are suspected or accused of Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Force Likely to Cause Death or Grievous Bodily Harm, reach out to speak with one of our experienced military court martial lawyers to discuss your best defense strategy.

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