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 (619) 376-6820 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.

You never expect to need an attorney while you are serving in the Military. You even procrastinate thinking you can manage the simplicity of your case, because after all, you are innocent, and you think the Government will recognize that. However, sometimes simplicity is not a government characteristic and things can spiral out of control. If you are a service member and ever need legal assistance, I implore you to call an Attorney.You will want a knowledgeable attorney with a military background, extensive NLSO connections, who shoots straight and will be the sharp end of your legal sword.Stephanie Kral was my attorney through 3 years of managing my case against the U.S. Gov. and without Stephanie and her team, it would have been a nightmare. I am fortunate to have enlisted her services and had the opportunity to watch her navigate the complexities of military law. She is everything you will want in an experienced attorney for both simple and complex cases. Call them immediately!
Marty S.
Marty S.
The paralegal Danielle is one of the best I have worked with. She was and is still one of my mentors in my career and life. She took care of me a many others as a defense paralegal manager. She always makes time for you. Her knowledge and her compassion for taking care of people is why she is who she is!! The Best! She is someone you will always want on your side. She is truly one of the best people I know!!!!
Tasha S.
Tasha S.
Stephanie is the most professional, well respected, and most genuine legal person that I know in the business. After working with her, from the moment we talked to the time she finished my case, she gave not only 100 percent of her time and dedication but also complete devotion to my needs, advise, and my case without hesitation. Her extensive background in military law coming from her military background as a Major in the United States Airforce and now civilian law comes unmatched. Her dedication to protecting the rights of military members speakes for itself with the flawless record she has out there in the fleet. Words cant express enough what she has done for me and my family ensuring I got the fairest case available and the best outcome there was. Thank you Stephanie. She is the best there is!!
Anthony B.
Anthony B.
Fortunately, I have not had to use these services however, once I heard Danielle worked here I knew I would be in good hands should I ever need assistance. Danielle was my paralegal supervisor when I was first entered into the paralegal career field and she changed my career trajectory for the better. She paved the way for me to promote through the ranks and managed my training phase from an apprentice to a journeyman in the career field. She has expert knowledge and provides candid feedback to those who ask. She's an all around professional.
Don G.
Don G.
I have been attempting to write this review for Stephanie for 3 months, Everytime I write it I delete it because I don’t think it’s good enough. This review was long past due but To the individual that may be facing any type of legal troubles from the bottom of my heart this is THE lawyer that you want on your side. At the age of 21, I faced 20 years in prison for a crime I did not commit. Stephanie is the definition of top-tier no words can describe how grateful I am for Stephanie and her team. She not only got my case dismissed, but she gave me my life back, for 2 1/2 years I was stuck in South Korea my command didn’t allow me to take leave. When I told Stephanie she dropped everything and went above and beyond, Steph personally told the government they better allow me to take leave to see my family. THE SAME DAY! They granted me 45 days of leave & when I came back I received a call from Stephanie, yelling with joy “ they are dropping all the charges “. Stephanie is that lawyer you see in movies who always wins, even when you feel like something isn’t going right Stephanie is always in control. Not only did the government lawyers respect her, the judge respected her , the Commanding General respected her and knew her name. So all I can say is thank you Stephanie and if you’re someone who truly needs help this is your lawyer ! Stephanie told me I was her second longest case that she ever had but one thing I can always guarantee about Stephanie is she never lacks when it comes to communication anything you wanna know anything you should know she will let you know Stephanie is an open book she tells you how it is she’s not gonna lie to you or waste your time.From the bottom of my heart thank you Stephanie !
Darrell L.
Darrell L.
Steph is the best in the business. She is compassionate, hardworking, intelligent, diligent, and knowledgeable. As a fellow attorney and colleague, I have reached out to Steph to bring her on board and help with some of my toughest cases, knowing having her by my side would lead to the best possible outcome.She is a fierce advocate for her clients; she does not back down or take nonsense from anyone. She is one of the few attorneys I would never want to see on the other side of a case.If you are in a tough spot and in need of legal assistance, you will not find better representation than Stephanie Kral.
Daniel M.
Daniel M.
Before I retired from the Air Force, I had a life altering experience. I was accused of some very serious crimes and facing major prison time if convicted. I was referred to Stephanie Kral by a legal advisor and man, was I happy that I obtained her service. This woman is a master of her craft. She was professional, focused, extremely through with her research and background information gathering. Mrs. Kral’s litigation skills are at extraordinary levels and once I’ve seen her 1st day in court I knew I was is great hands. I owe my life to Stephanie Kral and I would recommend her to anyone needing the best military criminal defense attorney around.
Erik M.
Erik M.
Stephanie Kral is an amazing attorney. She went above and beyond and works tirelessly to get the best outcome. She is a caring and intelligent attorney who chooses to personally communicate with you along the way, always making you feel like a priority. Stephanie, Thank you for all you do!
Erin S.
Erin S.

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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.

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