Is UCMJ Article 120 a Felony?

If you have been charged with a violation of Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), it is natural to have lots of questions about the potential penalties you could face if you are convicted. You may wonder, is UCMJ Article 120 a felony? The military does not designate crimes as misdemeanors or felonies, but it does designate different court procedures based on the severity of an offense.

Understanding UCMJ Article 120

Any service member who has been charged with violating UCMJ Article 120 needs to speak with an experienced Article 120 attorney right away. This Article of the UCMJ pertains to rape and carnal knowledge, outlining various crimes of a sexual nature that carry severe penalties upon conviction. While these are serious offenses, they are also some of the most commonly falsely accused offenses in the military.

It is possible for a service member to engage in consensual sexual activity only for their partner to later accuse them of rape or sexual assault. They could also be accused of an act of indecency that did not occur on US military grounds, and Article 120 outlines many different offenses that all fall within the purview of the Article. They can include:

  • Sexual assault that does or does not involve penetration.
  • Rape that does or does not involve penetration.
  • Aggravated sexual contact that involves the touching of another person’s body.
  • Abusive sexual contact that causes physical harm to the victim.

Whatever type of offense your case entails, it is imperative that you meet with an experienced Article 120 attorney as quickly as possible so you can start building your defense. The right attorney may be able to identify avenues of defense that may not be immediately apparent to you, and they can provide clarity and support during what is sure to be an emotionally challenging ordeal.

Building Your Defense in an Article 120 Case

One of the most difficult aspects of defending yourself in an Article 120 case is the fact that these cases often reduce down to the accuser’s word against the accused’s, and the establishment always tends to side with the accuser. While a conviction still requires proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, a defendant will need to assert their affirmative defense based on a preponderance of the evidence, and this can be a difficult standard of proof to meet.

Your Article 120 attorney can assist you with evidence gathering and witness preparation. Witness testimony is often crucial to any sexual assault case, and you have the right to cross-examination in building your defense. Your Article 120 attorney can help you identify inconsistencies in the testimony provided by your accuser and/or any witnesses called to testify against you, and they may also call witnesses whose testimonies contradict that of the accuser.

Aaron Meyer Law has the experience and resources you need on your side when you are searching for an experienced military criminal defense lawyer to represent you in an Article 120 case. Our firm knows how serious your situation could be and the various penalties you could face if you are convicted. Rest assured that when you choose Aaron Meyer as your Article 120 attorney, you are investing in a dedicated legal advocate to defend you fiercely.


Q: What Are the Penalties for an Article 120 Violation?

A: The penalties for any Article 120 violation can be very harsh. The defendant, if convicted, could face forfeiture of their pay and allowances, confinement in military prison for several years, and a dishonorable discharge. They will also lose all access to military pay, pension, and benefits they otherwise would have been able to claim. These penalties can vary based on the specific details of a case.

Q: Does the UCMJ Have Felonies and Misdemeanors?

A: No, the UCMJ does not have felonies and misdemeanors. If you are convicted of any UCMJ violation in military court, it would qualify as a federal conviction. Service members charged with crimes face the court-martial process. Broadly, general court-martial is reserved for crimes that would typically qualify as felonies for civilians, while court-martial is reserved for crimes that would usually constitute misdemeanors.

Q: What Are My Possible Defenses in an Article 120 Case?

A: Your possible defenses in an Article 120 case could include lack of intent, meaning you did not actually intend to commit the crime or that you have been wrongfully accused. You may also need to prove your defense on the grounds of consent. For example, if you were accused of rape but the person who accused you consented to sexual activity and then later accused you of rape, you would need to prove that you indeed had consent.

Q: Can I Be Kicked Out of the Military for an Article 120 Conviction?

A: Yes, you could be kicked out of the military if you are convicted of an Article 120 violation. The penalties for convictions under Article 120 of the UCMJ can include loss of pay and allowances, confinement in military prison, and dishonorable discharge from the military. The severity of your penalties will depend on the severity of the offense you are convicted of committing. You will also face further penalties in your civilian life.

Q: Why Should I Hire a UCMJ Article 120 Attorney?

A: You should hire a UCMJ Article 120 attorney because you stand a much better chance of building a viable and cohesive defense strategy with an experienced attorney’s assistance. Your military criminal defense lawyer can ensure your rights are protected throughout your proceedings, and they may be able to identify defensive options available to you that you may have overlooked on your own.

Aaron Meyer Law has successfully provided criminal defense representation to many US service members in all branches of the military. Article 120 cases are prosecuted aggressively and entail some of the harshest penalties one can face if they are charged with violating the UCMJ. Our firm can help you make clearer sense of your situation and build your defense, so contact us today and schedule your consultation with a trustworthy Article 120 attorney.

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