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Denver, CO Martial Law Blog

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Defending a Sexual Assault on a Child in Military Court

Q: What is the age of sexual consent under military law?

A highly–decorated military police officer assigned to the 759th Military Police Battalion at Fort Carson, in Colorado was arrested and charged with a crime involving a minor--sexual assault on a child under the age of 15.

Because the soldier’s entire future rests on a successful court martial defense against these charges, he’d be wise to engage the services of an independent, highly-experienced, civilian Child-Related Military Criminal Defense attorney.

The 26-year-old officer has been in the military for 7-1/2 years and has reportedly received 11 awards, including two Army Good Conduct Medals, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, NATO Medal, Combat Action Badge, and more.

The January arrest came after a four-month investigation into the alleged sexual relationship between the soldier and a 14-year-old girl--a relationship reported to have started on social media when the girl was 13, and then progressed to "Sexting" before it became physical when the girl was 14.

The teen alleged the pair had sex on an air mattress in the back of the officer’s truck. Email exchanges purportedly between the girl’s and the soldier’s devices include messages such as "U can't wait to be a mom, huh?” and "Like as soon as you turn 18?" In addition, when teen was instructed by detectives to message the soldier that she thought she may be pregnant and to ask for help, the response message stated: "I won't be able to if I'm in jail".

The soldier denied the sexual relationship. When questioned by investigators, he reportedly initially denied knowing the teen, then admitted to kissing her, and upon further questioning allegedly said he “couldn't say for sure if he had had sex with her since he was drunk” but "to my knowledge, I did not." Investigators recovered some air mattresses during a search warrant, one of which was reportedly in the back of the soldier’s truck.

Under Article 120 of the UCMJ, the age of sexual consent is 16, not 18 as the public perceives it to be. Accordingly, a child under the age of 16 is deemed incapable of consent. Sexual assault cases are divided between those involving a child under age 12 and those involving a child over 12 but not yet 16. The potential punishment upon conviction of aggravated sexual assault of a child over age 12 but not yet 16 could be as serious as a dishonorable discharge, confinement, a federal conviction, and/or required sex offender registration.

Ideally, you should consult an experienced military criminal defense attorney before making any statements to investigators or military personnel. But even if you have already made damaging admissions or given a confession, an attorney can often mitigate the damage—even if things look bad at the moment.

If you face criminal charges of sexual misconduct under Article 120 and or an Article 32 criminal investigation, you owe it to yourself to have an independent civilian military criminal defense attorney aggressively defending your case.

To set up a free consultation with Ryan Coward, Esq., litigator of some of the nation’s highest profile military cases, please contact the Court Martial Law division of Aviso Law LLC in Denver and Colorado Springs at 719-247-3111. We have represented hundreds of service members worldwide.

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