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Military Sexual
Assault Attorney

Military Sexual Assault: Article 120, UCMJ

Allegations of sexual assault, rape, or abusive sexual contact under Article 120, Uniform Code of Military Justice can have a profound impact on your future, even if you are found not guilty. One of the single most important choices you can make is having a military defense lawyer who knows the law, listens to you, and fights relentlessly on your behalf. If you have been accused of sexual assault or are facing charges, contact our military defense attorneys immediately.

Article 120, UCMJ

Military sexual assault is a constantly changing area of law that is always under scrutiny from Congress and the public. It’s important to understand what all the terms mean, what the process is after being accused, and what the consequences of an accusation could be.

Article 120, UCMJ, prohibits rape, sexual assault, aggravated sexual contact, and abusive sexual contact. Rape and sexual assault of a child and child pornography are prohibited under different punitive articles of the UCMJ.

What is the difference between rape and sexual assault?

People often use those terms interchangeably, but they mean different things under the UCMJ. They both require a “sexual act,” which includes:

  • Penetration of the penis into the vulva, anus, mouth,
  • Contact between the mouth and the penis, vulva, scrotum, or anus, or
  • Penetration of the vulva, penis, or anus by part of a person’s body or an object.

Rape requires a “sexual act” under the following circumstances:

  • Unlawful force;
  • Force likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm;
  • Threat of death, grievous bodily harm, or kidnapping;
  • Rendering someone unconscious; or
  • Forcible administration of a drug or intoxicant that substantially impairs their ability to appraise or control conduct.

Sexual assault also requires a “sexual act,” but under different circumstances, which are:

  • Threatening or placing a person in fear;
  • Making a fraudulent representation that the sexual act serves a professional purpose;
  • Inducing a belief that they are a different person;
  • When the other person does not consent;
  • When the person knows or reasonably should know that the other person is asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware that the sexual act is occurring; or
  • When the other person is incapable of consenting due to impairment by a drug, intoxicant, or mental or physical disability.

What are aggravated and abusive sexual contact?

“Sexual acts” and “sexual contact” are different concepts. Whereas “sexual acts” cover the conduct defined above, “sexual contact” involves the 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 the intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, or degrade any person or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person. The touching may be accomplished by any part of the body or an object.

Sexual contact that occurs under the same circumstances as those listed for rape is aggravated sexual contact. Sexual contact that occurs under the same circumstances as those listed for sexual assault is called abusive sexual contact.

Sexual Assault Investigations

When you are accused of sexual assault, it can be extremely stressful knowing what decisions to make and understanding the process. It is very important that you know your rights. You have the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and the right to refuse consent. You should exercise all of these rights, and immediately contact a military defense attorney to learn more about your rights and options.

If you are investigated for sexual crimes, NCIS, CID, AFOSI, or CGIS will enter your information into NCIC, a federal database. Even if your command doesn’t take any action against you, the fact that you were investigated for a sexual crime will still be stored in NCIC. It could come up during background checks and security clearance investigations for the rest of your life.

DOD Instruction 1030.02 requires that military prosecutors get the input of the alleged victim before disposing of the case, which means the evidence against you is not the only factor your commanding officer is using to consider what to do with your case. Even if the evidence against you isn’t strong, your case could still be pushed to a court-martial because the alleged victim wants that outcome.

Sexual Assault Court-Martial Consequences

If you are convicted at a court-martial of rape or sex assault, the current law imposes a mandatory minimum sentence of a dishonorable discharge. A dishonorable discharge will effectively eliminate your access to any military benefits, including the GI Bill.

In addition to the mandatory dishonorable discharge, the maximum jail sentence for rape is life in prison, and 30 years for sexual assault. Even the least serious offense under Article 120, UCMJ – abusive sexual contact – has a maximum jail sentence of seven years. Sex offender registration may be required depending on the laws of your state if you are convicted of a sexual crime, including those under Article 120, UCMJ.

Administrative Separation for Sexual Assault

Even if you do not face court-martial, being accused of a sexual offense can still have significant consequences for both your career and civilian life. The military services all have regulations that require administrative discharge or board of inquiry proceedings against any person with a substantiated allegation of sexual misconduct. If your commanding officer believes the allegations, you could be facing administrative separation even if your case doesn’t have sufficient evidence to go to court-martial, or if your accuser does not want to testify or participate in a court-martial.

Military Sexual Assault Defense Lawyers

Having an experienced military defense lawyer to represent you if you are accused of rape, sexual assault, or abusive sexual contact is key in ensuring your career, reputation, and life are not unfairly impacted. Steph and Abby both specialized in sexual assault cases when they were on active duty, and eventually served as instructors for other military lawyers on how to handle sexual crimes cases.

Steph and Abby had their first joint defense victory when they teamed up in 2015 to defend a client accused of nine specifications of rape, sexual assault, and sexual crimes. They worked for two and a half years to exonerate their client. Their tireless work in exposing his accuser’s lies, fighting for discovery of evidence showing their client’s innocence, and skillful trial advocacy led to a full acquittal. They were honored to attend his retirement ceremony two years later. Steph and Abby use the same approach now, with the added benefit of years more experience.

Steph and Abby have also served on both sides of the criminal justice system, working as both prosecutors and defense attorneys. They have both developed a wide range of skills, including talking to alleged victims, working with victims’ counsel, talking to commanders and convening authorities about sexual cases, and working with law enforcement on investigations for UCMJ articles covering sexual crimes. KMD does not have to take a one-size-fits all approach to every case or trial.

Steph and Abby have the diplomacy to talk to the victims’ counsel, while also having the advocacy to conduct a scathing cross-examination of the alleged victim at trial.

If you are facing allegations of a sexual offense, KMD has the experience, skills, and knowledge to defend you, your career, and your freedom.

Contact An Experienced Military Defense Lawyer Today

For a free consultation, call (855) 707-8265 or use the online contact form.


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*Please note, KMD does not handle cases involving the Department of Veterans Affairs, disability claims, or family law matters.

My local Military Defense Counsel is very short staffed so I had trouble getting a hold of them. Not wanting to wait I contacted Ms. Danielle Espinosa over the weekend and she was able to help review and discuss my response with me before it was due Monday. She was extremely knowledgeable, cut the fluff and told me like it was. I recommend anyone serious about the future of their Military Career to work with this team. Thank you for your help!
When I retained Ms. Kral, I was a nervous wreck. As she worked with me over the course of 18 months, she was compassionate and was able to assure me that I would have a future. Even my command JAG assured me I’d be alright when I hired her. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome with my case. Ms. Kral should be your choice if you need a military defense attorney.
Chad S.
Chad S.
Abbigayle Hunter and her legal team, especially Danielle Espinosa, were exceptional! The communication was prompt, professional, and thorough. From the moment we reached out to them, they showed a genuine interest in understanding our case and providing us with the best legal representation possible.Abbigayle Hunter and Danielle Espinosa, went above and beyond to ensure that we were kept informed throughout the entire legal process. They promptly responded to our emails and phone calls, addressing any concerns or questions we had. Their attention to detail and extensive knowledge of the law instilled confidence in us that we were in capable hands.Not only did Abbigayle Hunter and her team provide us with excellent communication, but they also displayed a remarkable level of expertise. They meticulously examined every aspect of our case, leaving no stone unturned. Their dedication and commitment to our case were evident in the meticulous research they conducted, the thorough documentation they prepared, and the persuasive arguments they presented.Abbigayle Hunter not only possessed an impressive understanding of the law but also had excellent negotiation skills. Her tirelessly advocated on our behalf, ensuring that our interests were protected and our rights were upheld. Their ability to navigate complex legal matters and maneuver through any obstacles that arose was truly remarkable.
Rufus Byrd
Rufus Byrd
Stephanie and her team were AMAZING! I found her through a mutual friend and she handled my case with care and compassion. Even her team checked on me, answered all my questions I had, overall she made sure everything was token care of during the ENTIRE process! When she told me “don’t you worry, that’s my job” I truly believe her and in the end she got the results that I am so grateful for! Hopefully I won’t have to go through the process again but if I have to she will most definitely be the woman I WILL call on! Thank you so much Stephanie and Danielle you both made this process a lot less stressful with your knowledge and compassion towards me and my case!!!
Steph and her team worked diligently to ensure all evidence or lack there of was thoroughly examined. Her knowledge and experience within the military justice system gave me piece of mind throughout the process as she was well versed in the way everything played out. My family and I are grateful for the hard work and professionalism displayed by everyone on her team. Thank you!
Jonathon Lynch
Jonathon Lynch
Hiring Steph has been the greatest thing for my career. In the last year alone I have had horrible encounters with my immediate chain of command and twice I had the best outcome given the circumstances. I highly recommend Steph.
Eva Aguilar
Eva Aguilar
Steph was the first and clear choice to handle my ADSEP board. I was facing serious allegations, which she handled with professionalism while keeping me posted along the way. Her expertise in UCMJ matters is second to none. Without her I would have probably lost my retirement benefits.
Called on behalf of a veteran who is terminally ill regarding a discharge upgrade and spoke to their assistant Christian. Christian was so unbelievably rude and spoke to me like I'm an idiot when he was unable to answer the questions I had about their services and the process. The level of disrespect from him totally caught me off guard given the nature of work the office is supposed to be doing. What's more upsetting is the lack of empathy that he displayed during our conversation. Unfortunately, I can't not speak on the level of service from the attorneys since we decided to go with someone else but Christian either needs to undergo more training or he needs to be replaced.
Desiree M.
Desiree M.
Stephanie is very experienced and a great attorney.
Jameel Yusuf
Jameel Yusuf
There are many things that I could say about this particular law firm, but instead of going into the weeds on my particular case, I feel as though brevity would be the best choice here. I was primarily represented by Ms. Abbigayle Hunter, and in short, I believe the representation by Ms. Hunter was above reproach. I couldn’t have asked for a better legal professional to handle the complexities of my particular case. She was transparent, punctual, and actually made me feel as though she was personally invested, despite the fact that she had already been paid for representation. She didn’t sugarcoat hard truths and was very up front about all different aspects relating to my case. It was comforting in a way that she was also a fellow service member, and it made me feel as though she took this case to heart and it added another level of drive to the case. Ms. Hunter has a certain tenacity in the courtroom that I found very refreshing to witness, and I would strongly recommend her to anyone else seeking legal advice. Would actively seek to be represented by her again, though also hoping it’s never needed.
Tim Malikie
Tim Malikie
Outstanding!!!! She's very smart, knows her job, and communicates with you all the time with the best of her knowledge. I highly recommend Kral Military Defense!!!
Jamal Stephens
Jamal Stephens
After my command refused to give me due process, I was lost for words and truly had no where to turn. A shipmate referred me to Steph and it was the best possible recommendation I have ever received. Reliable, expert, professional and overall just a great person. She never lost sight of my case and would check in on me to ensure I was doing good personally. I highly recommend her services to anyone who may have a legal issue. At minimum, request a consultation. I can assure that you will not be dissatisfied!
Vincent Hurtado
Vincent Hurtado
Highly recommend Steph! Thank you for all your hard work and fighting for righteousness. My family and I will be forever grateful!
Selena Hurtado
Selena Hurtado
Great team! After hiring this legal team i was pleased with their work and their ability to go above and beyond resulting in a finding of not guilty.
Tyson Smith
Tyson Smith
Very easy to talk to. Will get you the best outcome there is
I wish you could give more than 5 stars. She deserves 10!! This was a huge decision for our child, but she was worth every penny and more. As a mom I was really concerned about him spending the money on an attorney since you never know what you’re going to get. Our child mentioned this to Stephanie and she called me to answer all my questions. She went above and beyond what was required of her, not just with the phone call but with everything she did. The case went on for longer than we had ever imagined. She never wavered in her dedication. I was honestly shocked at just how hard she worked. If only I could express in words the heart felt gratitude, we feel towards her. She fought so hard and we knew we could trust decisions she made. When ever our child would update us, we would ask what Stephanie thought. We never could have imagined finding an attorney who we trust as much as we trust her. I don’t believe you will find an attorney who will fight as hard for you as she will. I consider her a part of our family and am so very blessed to have gotten to know her. She’s an amazing attorney and an even more amazing human being.
Shelly B.
Shelly B.
Stephanie was a great attorney as well as her team they helped me through my entire CID investigation and got me a no basis separation. Every question I had was answered in the upmost professional manner. I highly recommend that you retain her defense team for any case that you have. She’s attacks every case in a manner that leaves everyone with a reasonable doubt.
This was a life changing decision.I spent hours searching for and calling several attorneys. Some didn't give me the time of day, others just seemed cold. Mrs. Kral was the only attorney I called who actually seemed to care. And not only that but she listened me and gave an honest opinion. Usually you feel that attorneys only care about money but I never once felt that from Mrs. Kral. She took a personal interest in my case and brought not only her extensive knowledge of the law, but also her fierce attitude and relentless perseverance. She never missed a beat and always had a way forward. She also has excellent communication skills and took the time to explain everything to me at every step. I felt hopeless until we met. Now I can move on with my life and move forward with everything behind me because of how valiantly she fought. I truly think that if you decide to choose Kral Military Defense to fight for you then you'll never feel disappointed. If I could give more than 5 stars then I would. Because she's not like other attorneys. She will always have your back and keep your best interests at heart. If you take away anything from this review, let it be this: You want someone behind you that is willing to fight for you as if you were their own and also has the strength and knowledge to be successful. Don't pass up the opportunity to increase your chances and decrease your stress.
Evan Giancola
Evan Giancola
The team at Kral Military Defense is very approachable, knowledgeable, and dedicated. I was facing an LOR due to the results of an investigation conducted by the military. The team at Kral Military Defense reviewed the report of investigation and was able to craft an excellent rebuttal to the charges. Ultimately, the leadership decided to rescind the LOR . The whole team, Steph, Danielle, ,Abby, and Chris were very responsive to my questions and requests through the whole process. If you ever find yourself in any sort of legal situation in the military I highly recommend that you contact them and put them in your corner!
Stephanie was very knowledgeable and despite me being so anxious about my case helped me through it and got an innocent verdict within 6 minutes of the board being adjourned. So very grateful for her and my JAG for helping me out and highly recommend hiring Stephanie especially if you are military.
Andrew Compton
Andrew Compton
This law firm it worth every penny. Mrs. Danielle is an amazing women. She is kind and warm hearted and professional. She will make sure she understands you very well and will fights tooth and nail for you. Mrs. Abby is phenomenal. Mrs. Abby's Knowledge is deep and spot on. Mrs. Abby knows what to do and if she's not sure about UCMJ she'll make sure she does within your next call. Both these ladies are top-tier lawyer and paralegal. And I will always recommend these two to others for the duration of their long careers. Christian was a great guy and made sure all information was pushed up to them in a timely manner he's a hidden gem. They fight the good fight. Do not doubt them and work with them and they'll do their best and more.
Peter Petracca
Peter Petracca
Kral Military Defense has been absolutely amazing to me. Their whole team is very easy to work with and does such an amazing job. Kral defense was referred to me by JAGS I used to work with and I would absolutely 110% recommend and refer them to anyone in need of assistance. They have made my whole situation stress free and easy.
Kyle Lewis
Kyle Lewis
Steph and her team helped me to get a positive outcome during my NJP process. As soon I heard my case was going to captain mast, I googled military lawyer's and her name came up. With her experience as a former active duty Jag, her team truly understands the military system and what commands can and cannot do. With just a week to prepare for the NJP, her team got me templates that made the process easier. Her wording in her official letter to my command made it hard for the command to process several charges. This team is professional and know what they are doing. Hopefully I am never in this position again, but if so Kral Military Defense will be my first call.
James Johnson
James Johnson
The Kralmilitary defense firm saved my career and my family today! I have never experienced such a graceful, tactful, intelligent person in my life. She literally destroyed the prosecutor on everything and went tooth and nail to fight for my rights and career. I’m forever indebt to this firm. The Paralegal have lived the military life so they fully understand and know how to support. This firm should add 5 more stars because the service she gives 5 stars is not enough.
ron bobo
ron bobo
I am blessed to have Abby as my lawyer with Danielle as her paralegal during my ADSEP board. My retirement was on the line since I was just a few months away from it. The Kral team worked my case as true professionals. Since they all have a military background in the Air Force. Knowing military law in all branches is what they do best. Abby even worked with the military jag I requested to represent me as well. She now continues to do follow ups to make sure there’s no resistance from my command after we had won the board unanimously. If you feel like your command is out to get you without the facts, the Kral team will provide all the receipts to defend you.Joseph
Joe C
Joe C

About The Firm

Kral Military Defense defends members of America's military throughout the world. We do not maintain physical office space in the traditional sense. Instead, we offer secure video and telephone consultations and meet with current clients, as needed, at home and abroad.

Office Location

3111 Camino Del Rio N.
Suite 400
San Diego, CA 92108

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