Military Sexual Assault

Military sexual assault refers to sexual offenses, ranging from rape and to unwanted sexual contact. This covers allegations of improper sexual conduct committed against civilians as well as military members.

In recent years, extensive media coverage has been given to perceived problems with sexual assault in the military, and congress has made various attempts to pass legislation altering the way in which the military responds to sexual assault allegations. The political problems and public scrutiny associated with military sexual assault have resulted in more aggressive investigations and prosecutions against those service members who are accused of sex offenses.

A variety of Articles within the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) establish various types of sexual crimes as UCMJ offenses. The Department of Defense has provided a summary of the UCMJ Offenses related to sex crimes.  Examples of UCMJ offenses include rape, which is defined in Article 120, and sodomy by force, which is defined in Article 125.

Penalties for sexual assault offenses committed by military members are very serious. In addition to dishonorable discharge, loss of all benefits, and a lengthy period of jail time, someone convicted of a sex offense under the UCMJ will have to register as a sex offender.

The DOD explains that penalties under UCMJ are often significantly more serious than the statutory punishments defined by the U.S. Code that criminalizes civilian sexual offenses. As an example, the DOD explains that Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice could result in a service member being sentenced to seven years of confinement for fondling the breast of a 12-year-old, while 18 U.S. Code section 244(b) imposes only two years of imprisonment.

Because the military has become more aggressive in taking action in response to accusations of sexual assault, and because penalties are so severe, it is important that you consult with a civilian military defense attorney if you are accused of any wrongdoing related to sexual conduct.

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