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UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear

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

What is UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear?

UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in FearUnder Article 120 of the UCMJ, sexual assault by threatening or placing another person in fear involves committing a sexual act through intimidation. This charge is grave due to the coercive nature of the act. Convictions can lead to severe penalties, including dishonorable discharge and confinement.

Accusations of this nature demand immediate legal action. Hiring the best military defense lawyers ensures a thorough understanding of UCMJ complexities and effective navigation of court-martial procedures. Experienced Article 120 UCMJ lawyers can protect the accused’s rights, scrutinize evidence, and build a robust defense, increasing the chances of a favorable outcome.

Note: The maximum and minimum punishments for UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear (Sexual Assault) vary depending on the date of the offense.

In the military, the crime of UCMJ Article 120, Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear, falls under the general offense category of Sexual Assault. 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) and a Dishonorable Discharge or Dismissal. If convicted, the defendant must register as a Federal and State sex offender.

What are the Sexual Assault Offenses Under Article 120 UCMJ?

What are the Maximum Punishments for Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear, Article 120 UCMJ (Sexual Assault)?

For UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear offenses committed between 1 January 2019 and 27 December 2023:

  • 30 Years of Confinement
  • Total Forfeitures
  • Reduction to E-1
  • A Dishonorable Discharge or a Dismissal is a mandatory minimum sentence for this offense.
  • Collateral Consequences of a Federal Felony Conviction
  • Collateral Consequences of Registration as a State & Federal Sex Offender

For UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear offenses committed after 27 December 2023

  • Under the Sentencing Parameters, Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear, Article 120 UCMJ (Sexual Assault) is a Category 3 Offense
  • Mandatory confinement ranges from 30-120 months (Between 2 years and 6 months to 10 years)
  • A Dishonorable Discharge or a Dismissal is a mandatory minimum sentence for this offense.
  • 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 Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear Article 120 UCMJ

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

What are the Elements of UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear (Sexual Assault)?

  1. That at or near (location), on or about (date), the accused committed a sexual act upon (victim) by (state the alleged sexual act); and
  2. That the accused did so by threatening or placing (victim) in fear.

Sample Model Specification: UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear (Sexual Assault)

In that SGT Ronald Don, 82nd Airborne Division, US Army, did, at or near Fort Liberty, NC, on or about 4 July 2024, commit a sexual act upon Jane Victim, by penetrating Jane Victim’s mouth with SGT Ronald Don’s penis, with an intent to abuse Jane Victim, by placing Jane Victim in fear.

What are the Definitions for UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear (Sexual Assault)?

Threat or placing in fear. When the sexual act 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 victim or another person being subjected to the wrongful action contemplated by the communication or action.

“Wrongful action,” as used here, includes an abuse of military rank, position, or authority to engage in a sexual act with a victim. This includes, but is not limited to, threats to initiate an adverse personnel action or withhold a favorable personnel action unless the victim submits to the accused’s requested sexual act. Superiority in rank is a factor in, but not dispositive of, whether a reasonable person in the position of the victim would fear that his or her noncompliance with the accused’s desired sexual act would result in the threatened wrongful action contemplated by the communication or action.

In proving that a person made a threat, it need not be proven that the person intended to carry out the threat or could carry out the threat. The threat or fear in this case must be that the alleged victim or another person would be subjected to the wrongful action.

Marriage. Marriage is not a defense to any offense in violation of UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear (Sexual Assault).

If necessary, include the following instruction: Marriage is not a defense to this offense.

“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 UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear (Sexual Assault) has Been Raised, then the Military Judge Will Give the Following Instruction:

The evidence has raised the issue of whether Jane Victim consented to the sexual conduct listed in The Specification One of The Charge. All of the evidence concerning consent to the sexual conduct is relevant. It 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 UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Assault 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 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 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.

UCMJ Article 120 Military Defense Lawyers for UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear

If you are suspected or accused of UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear, reach out to speak with one of our experienced military court martial lawyers to discuss your best defense strategy.

Introduction to Article 120 UCMJ: Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear

Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) addresses various forms of sexual assault, including sexual assault by threatening or placing another person in fear. This article aims to protect service members from non-consensual sexual acts that occur under duress or coercion. Understanding this offense involves exploring its elements, the collateral consequences of a conviction, and the broader policy implications within the military context.

Basics of UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear

To secure a conviction for sexual assault by threatening or placing another person in fear under Article 120, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Sexual Act: The accused committed a sexual act upon another person. A “sexual act” includes contact involving the penetration, however slight, of the genital, anal, or oral opening by any part of the body or by an object.
  • Threat or Fear: The accused threatened or placed the victim in fear, compelling the victim to submit to the sexual act.
  • Lack of Consent: The sexual act was committed without the lawful consent of the victim. Consent must be given voluntarily, without coercion or fear of harm.
  • Intent: The accused acted with the intent to engage in the sexual act through the use of threats or by placing the victim in fear.

Collateral Consequences of UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear Conviction

A conviction for sexual assault under Article 120 involving threats or fear has numerous collateral consequences, including:

Sex Offender Registration for UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear

Individuals convicted of sexual assault are typically required to register as sex offenders. This registration involves:

  • Public Registry: Being listed on a public sex offender registry can lead to social ostracism, harassment, and difficulties finding housing and employment.
  • Notification Requirements: Regular reporting to law enforcement and notification of residence, employment, or other personal details changes.
  • Residency Restrictions: Restrictions on where registered sex offenders can live, often limiting their housing options and sometimes forcing them to move away from support networks.
  • Travel Restrictions: Restrictions on travel, both domestically and internationally, impact personal freedom and opportunities.

Federal Felony Conviction for UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear

A federal felony conviction carries significant long-term consequences:

  • Employment Challenges: Many employers hesitate to hire individuals with a felony conviction, limiting job prospects.
  • Professional Licenses: Certain professions require clean records for licensing. A felony conviction can bar individuals from obtaining necessary certifications and licenses, closing doors to careers in law, medicine, education, and more.
  • Loss of Voting Rights: In many states, felony convictions result in the temporary or permanent loss of voting rights.
  • Firearm Restrictions: Convicted felons are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms, impacting personal freedoms and recreational activities.
  • Public Assistance: Felony convictions can result in denying certain public benefits, including housing assistance and food stamps.
  • Social Stigma: The social stigma of a felony conviction can affect personal relationships and community standing, leading to isolation and mental health issues.

Dishonorable Discharge for UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear

A dishonorable discharge is one of the most severe penalties and carries profound implications:

  • Loss of Military Benefits: Convicted individuals typically lose all military benefits, including retirement pay, healthcare benefits, and access to military facilities.
  • Employment Difficulties: Many civilian employers view a dishonorable discharge as a major red flag, significantly hindering employment opportunities.
  • Reputation Damage: The social and professional stigma associated with a dishonorable discharge can lead to significant personal and professional challenges.

Confinement for UCMJ Article 120 Sexual Assault By Threatening or Placing That Other Person in Fear

Confinement, often in a military prison, has both immediate and long-term impacts:

  • Immediate Hardships: Separation from family and community, loss of freedom, and the challenges of life in prison.
  • Post-Confinement Challenges: Difficulty reintegrating into civilian life, finding employment, and reestablishing personal relationships.
  • Psychological Effects: Confinement can lead to long-term psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Policy Implications of Sexual Assault in the Military

Sexual assault in the military has significant policy implications, prompting legislative and institutional reforms. The pervasive issue of sexual assault undermines military cohesion, trust, and operational effectiveness. Recognizing the severity of the problem, Congress has taken several actions to address sexual assault within the armed forces:

  • Strengthened Reporting Mechanisms: Improved systems for reporting sexual assaults, including anonymous reporting options, to encourage more victims to come forward.
  • Enhanced Support Services: Increased support services for victims, including counseling, medical care, and legal assistance, to help them navigate the aftermath of an assault.
  • Revised Legal Procedures: Changes to the military justice system to ensure impartiality and fairness in handling sexual assault cases, including the removal of commanders’ authority to overturn convictions.
  • Training and Education: Expanded training programs to educate service members about sexual assault prevention, consent, and bystander intervention, aiming to create a culture of respect and accountability.
  • Accountability Measures: Policies to hold perpetrators accountable and deter future offenses, including stricter penalties and mandatory reporting requirements for superiors aware of such incidents.
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