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Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording

Facing a court-martial, UCMJ action, Administrative Separation Board, or other Adverse Administrative Action for Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording? Call our experienced military defense lawyers at 1-800-921-8607 for a free consultation.

“Your career, reputation, and even your freedom hang in the balance. A single misstep could derail everything you’ve worked for. This isn’t just a legal matter; it’s a fight for your future.” (Michael Waddington, Military Defense Lawyer).

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Note: This law applies only to Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording offenses committed on and after 1 January 2019. Effective 28 July 2023, EO 14103 added the words “without legal justification or lawful authorization” to the Model Specifications and Elements of these offenses.

What is Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording?

Article 120C Ucmj Indecent Recording - Court Martial Lawyers“Article 120c of the UCMJ addresses indecent recording, which involves knowingly and wrongfully recording the private area of another person without their consent and under circumstances where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Convictions can lead to severe penalties, including confinement, dishonorable discharge, and mandatory registration as a sex offender.”  Manual for Courts-Martial, United States (2024 ed.)

Accusations under Article 120c UCMJ can have devastating legal and personal consequences. It is critical to seek assistance from the best military defense lawyers who understand the complexities of the UCMJ. These lawyers can navigate the legal intricacies, protect the accused’s rights, and work to achieve the best possible outcome. The penalties for indecent recording are severe, making it imperative to have skilled Article 120 UCMJ lawyers by one’s side.

What are the Elements of Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording?

  1. That (state the time and place alleged), the accused, without legal justification or lawful authorization, knowingly (photographed) (videotaped) (filmed) (made a recording of) the private area of (state the name of the alleged victim);

  2. That the accused did so without the consent of (state the name of the alleged victim); and

  3. That said recording was made under circumstances in which (state the name of the alleged victim) had a reasonable expectation of privacy. Manual for Courts-Martial, United States (2024 ed.)

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

What are the Maximum Punishments for Indecent Recording, Article 120c UCMJ?

Note: The maximum and minimum punishments for UCMJ Article 120c Indecent Recording vary depending on the date of the offense.

In the military, the crime of UCMJ Article 120c Indecent Recording is a serious offense sex offense. It carries significant mandatory punishments. Offenses committed after December 27, 2023, carry a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 1-36 months. If convicted, the defendant must register as a Federal and State sex offender.

Maximum punishments for Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording offenses committed between 1 Jan 2019 and 27 Dec 2023:

Maximum punishments for Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording offenses committed after 27 Dec 2023

  • Under the Sentencing Parameters, Indecent Recording, Article 120c 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.)

Combined UCMJ Maximum Punishment Charts

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

Article 120C Ucmj Indecent Recording – Court Martial LawyersSex 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 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording

A military member convicted of Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording 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 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording

In that PFC Ted Trickster, US Army, did, at or near Fort Moore, Georgia, on or about 27 Oct 2024, without legal justification or lawful authorization, knowingly film the private area of Janice Victim, without her consent and under circumstances in which she had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Model Specification: Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording

In that ________ (personal jurisdiction data), did (at/on board—location), on or about _______ 20__, without legal justification or lawful authorization, knowingly (photograph) (videotape) (film) (make a recording of) the private area of __________, without (his) (her) consent and under circumstances in which (he) (she) had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

What are the Definitions for Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording?

“Wrongful” under Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recordingmeans without legal justification or lawful authorization.

An act is done “knowingly” under Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording when it is done intentionally and on purpose. An act done as the result of a mistake or accident is not done “knowingly.”

“Private area” under Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recordingmeans the naked or underwear-clad genitalia, anus, buttocks, or female areola or nipple.

“Under circumstances in which that other person has a reasonable expectation of privacy” or “reasonable expectation of privacy” means:
(A) circumstances in which a reasonable person would believe that he or she could disrobe in privacy, without being concerned that an image of a private area of the person was being captured; or
(B) circumstances in which a reasonable person would believe that a person’s private area would not be visible to the public.

“Broadcast” under Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording means electronically transmitting a visual image with the intent that a person or persons view it.

“Distribute” under Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording means delivering to the actual or constructive possession of another, including transmission by electronic means.

“Recording” under Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording means a still or moving visual image captured or recorded by any means.

Mistake of fact as to consent in Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording cases

When the accused is charged with indecent viewing or recording, under Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording and the evidence has reasonably raised mistake of fact as to consent, include the following instruction on honest and reasonable mistake of fact as to consent. Only the honest mistake of fact instruction should be given if instructing on an attempted offense.

The evidence has raised the issue of mistake on the part of the accused whether (state the name of the alleged victim) consented to the conduct concerning the offense(s) of indecent (viewing) (visual recording), as alleged in (the) Specification(s) (___) of (the) (Additional) Charge (___).

Mistake of fact as to consent is a defense to (that) (those) charged offense(s). “Mistake of fact as to consent” means the accused held, as a result of ignorance or mistake, an incorrect belief that the other person consented to the (viewing) (photographing) (videotaping) (filming) (visual recording). 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, ignorance or mistakes must be based on information or lack thereof, that would indicate to a reasonable person that the other person consented. (Additionally, the ignorance or mistake cannot be based on the negligent failure to discover the facts.

In Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording cases, “Negligence” is the absence of due care. “Due care” is what a reasonably careful person would do under the same or similar circumstances.)

The prosecution is burdened to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the mistake of fact as to consent did not exist. If you are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, at the time of the charged offense(s), the accused was not under a mistaken belief that the alleged victim consented to the (viewing) (photographing) (videotaping) (filming) (visual recording), the defense does not exist.

Even if you conclude the accused was under a mistaken belief that the alleged victim consented to the (viewing) (photographing) (videotaping) (filming) (visual recording), if you are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that at the time of the charge offense(s), the accused’s mistake was unreasonable, the defense does not exist.

Voluntary intoxication and mistake of fact as to consent. If there is evidence of the accused’s voluntary intoxication, the following instruction is appropriate:

There has been some evidence concerning the accused’s state of intoxication at the time of the alleged offense. On whether the accused’s mistaken belief, if any, was reasonable, you may not consider the accused’s intoxication because a reasonable 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 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 broadcasting or distributing an indecent visual recording, 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 circumstances under which the recording was made.

The evidence has raised the issue of voluntary intoxication in relation to 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 the recording was made without the consent of (state the name of the alleged victim), and that the accused knew or reasonably should have known that the recording was made under circumstances in which (state the name of the alleged victim) had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Knowledge and Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording Cases

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 (he) (she) is 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 and the other evidence in the case. 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 the recording was made without the consent of (state the name of the alleged victim), and the question of whether the accused “reasonably should have known” that the recording was made under circumstances in which (state the name of the alleged victim) had a reasonable expectation of privacy, 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.

The expectation of Privacy and Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording

In summary, voluntary intoxication should be considered in determining whether the accused had actual knowledge that the recording was made without the consent of (state the name of the alleged victim), and under circumstances in which (state the name of alleged victim) had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Voluntary Intoxication and Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording

Voluntary intoxication should not be considered in determining whether the accused “reasonably should have known” that the recording was made without the consent of (state the name of the alleged victim), and under circumstances in which (state the name of alleged victim) had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording Military Defense Lawyers

Article 120c of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) addresses the offense of indecent recording. This article is designed to protect the privacy and dignity of individuals by prohibiting the wrongful recording, broadcasting, or distribution of intimate visual images without consent. It is a crucial provision that upholds the standards of conduct expected within the military.

Basics of Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording

  • Recording: The accused must have knowingly created a recording of another person’s private area without their consent. This includes visual images or videos of the person’s naked or partially naked body or engaged in sexual activity.
  • Broadcasting or Distribution: The act also covers the wrongful broadcasting or distribution of such recordings. This means that sharing the images or videos without the consent of the person depicted is equally punishable.
  • Expectation of Privacy: The person recorded must have had a reasonable expectation of privacy during the recording. This implies that the act was done secretly or surreptitiously, violating the individual’s privacy.

Consequences of Violating Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording

Violations of Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording carry severe penalties due to the significant breach of trust and privacy involved. Possible consequences include:

  • Confinement: Depending on the severity and circumstances of the offense, the accused may face substantial prison time.
  • Dishonorable Discharge: A conviction often results in a dishonorable discharge, which ends the individual’s military career and strips them of military benefits.
  • Forfeiture of Pay and Allowances: The convicted person may lose their pay and allowances, leading to financial difficulties.
  • Sex Offender Registration: In some cases, those convicted under Article 120c may be required to register as sex offenders, which carries long-term social and legal repercussions.

The Importance of Legal Representation in an Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording Case

Given the grave consequences of an Article 120c violation, the accused must seek immediate legal representation from the best military defense lawyers. Here’s why:

  • Complexity of Military Law: The UCMJ and the military justice system have unique procedures and rules that differ significantly from civilian law. Experienced military defense lawyers understand these complexities and can navigate them effectively.
  • Investigation and Evidence: Indecent recording cases often involve intricate evidence and detailed investigations. Skilled lawyers can scrutinize the evidence, challenge its admissibility, and ensure that the accused’s rights are protected.
  • Building a Defense Strategy: A proficient defense lawyer can develop a robust defense strategy tailored to the case’s specifics. This might involve challenging the prosecution’s evidence, questioning the credibility of witnesses, or highlighting procedural errors.
  • Mitigating Penalties: Even if a conviction is unavoidable, experienced defense lawyers can work to mitigate the penalties, seeking reduced sentences or lesser charges.

Defense Strategies for Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording Cases

Effective defense strategies for those accused under Article 120c UCMJ may include:

  • Consent: Demonstrating that the person recorded had consented to the recording or distributing the images.
  • Lack of Privacy Expectation: Arguing that the person recorded did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
  • Mistaken Identity: Proving that the accused was not the person who made or distributed the recording.
  • Procedural Errors: Identifying and challenging procedural mistakes made during the investigation or prosecution.

Article 120c UCMJ Indecent Recording Court Martial Lawyers

Article 120c UCMJ is a critical mechanism for protecting privacy and maintaining ethical standards within the military. The wrongful recording, broadcasting, or distribution of intimate visual images is a serious offense with severe consequences. Service members accused of this crime should seek immediate legal assistance from the best military defense lawyers to ensure their rights are protected and to navigate the complexities of military law effectively. Experienced legal representation can significantly influence the case’s outcome, ensuring justice is served fairly and proportionately.

If you are suspected or accused of UCMJ Article 120c Indecent Recording, speak with one of our experienced military court martial lawyers to discuss your best defense strategy.

Indecent Recording Reporting Data

“In APY 22-23, there were significant reports of indecent recording involving cadets, midshipmen, and prep students, indicating a critical issue within military academies.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 10

“The reports of indecent recording were part of the broader category of sexual misconduct that saw an overall decrease in APY 22-23.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 8

“Indecent recording incidents often involve the use of unauthorized devices to capture private moments without consent, a violation of both privacy and trust.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 11

“The number of indecent recording reports has prompted increased awareness and preventive measures within the academies.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 12

Demographics and Trends

“Most victims in investigations of indecent recording incidents are female, aligning with the general trend observed in other forms of sexual misconduct.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 18

“Indecent recording incidents primarily involved subjects aged 16-24, who represent the majority demographic within the military academies.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 18

“The rise in indecent recording cases reflects a disturbing trend in the misuse of technology for exploitative purposes.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 13

“Efforts to curb indecent recording have included stricter regulations on electronic devices and increased training on privacy and consent.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 14

Military Justice Outcomes

“By the end of APY 22-23, several cases of indecent recording had progressed to military justice proceedings, reflecting the serious nature of these offenses.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 15

“Indecent recording cases resulted in various disciplinary actions, including court-martial charges, nonjudicial punishment, and administrative discharges.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 16

“The completion of investigations into indecent recording cases has led to a clearer understanding of the extent and impact of these incidents.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 17

“The military academies are committed to addressing indecent recording through rigorous investigation and appropriate disciplinary measures.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 18

Key Statistics

“In APY 22-23, there were a total of 166 reports of sexual assault involving academy students—a 19 percent decrease from the previous year.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 8

“Of the 166 total reports, 65 were Unrestricted Reports and 101 were Restricted Reports.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 8

“137 reports involved actively enrolled cadets or midshipmen, a decrease from 170 in the previous academic year.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 9

“Among the 65 Unrestricted Reports, 31 involved an academy student alleging sexual assault by another academy student.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 15

“Most victims in investigations of Unrestricted Reports are female (91 percent), while most subjects are male (86 percent).”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 18

“The age group 16-24 accounts for 87 percent of victims and 72 percent of subjects in completed investigations.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 18

“The estimated number of cadets and midshipmen experiencing unwanted sexual contact in APY 21-22 was 1,136.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 13

“In APY 22-23, there were 121 initial Restricted Reports, of which 20 converted to Unrestricted Reports.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 18

“30 criminal investigations initiated in APY 22-23 were completed within the same academic year.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 14

“By the end of APY 22-23, disposition information was completed for 60 subjects involved in sexual assault investigations.”
Statistical Data on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment APY22-23, p. 15

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