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UCMJ Article 120 Aggravated Sexual Contact by Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear That Any Person Would Be Would Be Subjected to Death, Grievous Bodily Harm, or Kidnapping

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 Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear That Any Person Would Be Subjected to Death, Grievous Bodily Harm, or Kidnapping?

UCMJ Article 120 Aggravated Sexual Contact by Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear That Any Person Would Be Would Be Subjected to Death, Grievous Bodily Harm, or KidnappingAggravated sexual contact under Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) involves committing sexual acts through threats or by placing another person in fear of harm. This offense includes scenarios where the accused uses intimidation or the threat of violence to force the victim into unwanted sexual contact. The seriousness of this crime is reflected in the severe penalties it carries, which can include lengthy imprisonment, dishonorable discharge, and mandatory registration as a sex offender.

Given the grave nature of these charges, individuals accused of aggravated sexual contact under Article 120 UCMJ should immediately seek legal assistance from the best military defense lawyers. The military justice system is complex, and navigating it requires a deep understanding of military law and court-martial procedures. An experienced defense lawyer can provide the knowledge and skills necessary to mount a robust defense, protecting the accused’s rights throughout the process.

The consequences of a conviction can be life-altering, affecting not only one’s military career but also personal and professional future. A knowledgeable Article 120 UCMJ lawyer will meticulously review the case details, scrutinize the evidence, and challenge any procedural errors or inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case. This level of detailed examination is crucial in building a strong defense strategy.

Moreover, accusations of aggravated sexual contact carry a significant social stigma, which can impact the accused’s reputation and relationships. An experienced lawyer can help mitigate these effects by providing comprehensive legal representation and support. They can also offer guidance and reassurance during this challenging time, helping the accused to understand their rights and options.

In summary, facing charges of aggravated sexual contact under Article 120 UCMJ is a serious matter that demands the attention of the best military defense lawyers. With their assistance, the accused can protect their rights and increase their chances of achieving a favorable outcome.

What are the Elements of Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear That Any Person Would Be Subjected to Death, Grievous Bodily Harm, or Kidnapping?

  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 threatening or placing (victim) in fear that (state the name of the person alleged) Be Would Be Subjected to Death, Grievous Bodily Harm, or Kidnapping subjected to death, grievous bodily harm, or kidnapping.


Note: The maximum and minimum punishments for UCMJ Article 120 Aggravated Sexual Contact by Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear That Any Person Would Be Subjected to Death, Grievous Bodily Harm, or Kidnapping (Aggravated Sexual Contact) vary depending on the date of the offense.

In the military, the crime of UCMJ Article 120, Aggravated Sexual Contact by Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear That Any Person Would Be Subjected to Death, Grievous Bodily Harm, or Kidnapping, 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 Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear That Any Person Would Be Subjected to Death, Grievous Bodily Harm, or Kidnapping, Article 120 UCMJ?

For offenses 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

For offenses committed after 27 Dec 2023

  • Under the Sentencing Parameters, Aggravated Sexual Contact by Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear That Any Person Would Be Subjected to Death, Grievous Bodily Harm, or Kidnapping, 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 Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear That Any Person Would Be Subjected to Death, Grievous Bodily Harm, or Kidnapping

A military member convicted of Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear That Any Person Would Be Subjected to Death, Grievous Bodily Harm, or Kidnapping 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 Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear That Any Person Would Be Subjected to Death, Grievous Bodily Harm, or Kidnapping

In that ENS Willy Lopez, US Navy, did, at or near Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, on or about 22 May 2024, directly touched the vulva of Jane Victim, with ENS Willy Lopez’s body part, to wit: ENS Willy Lopez’s finger with an intent to humiliate Jane Victim, by placing Jane Victim in fear that Jane Victim Would Be Subjected to Death, Grievous Bodily Harm, or Kidnapping subjected to kidnapping.

What are the Definitions for Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear That Any Person Would Be Subjected to Death, Grievous Bodily Harm, or Kidnapping

By threat or placing in fear. When the sexual contact is alleged by threat or by placing in fear, include the following instruction:

“Threatening or placing a person in fear” means a communication or action that is of sufficient consequence to cause a reasonable fear that non-compliance will result in the

Sexual Contact and Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear

“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.

Unlawful force under Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear

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 Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear. 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.

Sexual Act and Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear

“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.”

If Evidence of Consent to Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear That Any Person Would Be Subjected to Death, Grievous Bodily Harm, or Kidnapping has Been Raised, then the Military Judge Will Give the Following Instruction:

Instructing on consent. 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. 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).
  2. 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.
  4. Stated another way, “by” means the sexual conduct occurred because of that method. 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 Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear

“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.

Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear Military Defense Lawyers

If you are suspected or accused of Article 120 UCMJ Aggravated Sexual Contact by Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear That Any Person Would Be Subjected to Death, Grievous Bodily Harm, or Kidnapping, reach out to speak with one of our experienced military court martial lawyers to discuss your best defense strategy.

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