Denver, CO Martial Law Blog

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Beating a Court-Martial for Rape

Q: Are there mandatory minimum sentences for sexual assault offenses if convicted?

Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (“UCMJ”) governs the multiple types of sexual assault in the military. In recent years, military sexual assault policies have undergone many changes and that has led to more service members being charged and longer, harsher punishments and additional penalties for those who are convicted.

Soldiers convicted of sexual assault offenses face mandatory minimum sentences such as dismissal or dishonorable discharge. That's why it's more important than ever that soldiers facing such charges don't settle for an often inexperienced, overworked court-appointed military defense attorney and instead retain a seasoned advocate civilian military court martial defense attorney to defend their case.

Sexual assault cases often come down to a credibility issue in. There is “he said” and “she said” sides of each story and they are usually conflicting.

Recently, a Navy seal was acquitted of "the most serious charges of rape, aggravated assault, sexual assault, kidnapping and lying to officials" charges. He was found guilty of "battery and sexual harassment" and reportedly sentenced to “about three months in the brig and [will] lose a rank".

The charges arose from allegations of "rape, violence and adultery" against a married Navy seal by a woman in his unit with whom he admittedly had carried on an affair for two years, both prior to and after his marriage.

The woman allegedly claimed the Seal flew into a “jealous rage” upon learning that she'd had relations with another man, that he put his hands around her neck, put her in a "submission hold", and ultimately raped her in a hotel room. She testified that she went along with the sex "because she feared other violence".

The Seal maintained he didn't hit the woman even though he admittedly "lost a little bit of control" and that the sex was not rape. The defense contends the woman was "simply gunning for automatic reassignment and for revenge" for the Seal not leaving his wife for her.

In an attempt to discredit the woman's credibility, the defense put forth character witnesses as well as "an estimated 1000 text exchanges between the two after that night" which reportedly included a day-after text saying "I stayed because I still love you". She also allegedly professed her love in a video she sent him two weeks later. Needless to say, the existence of such evidence was obviously fortuitous for the Seal’s defense.

If you have been charged or expect to be charged with sexual misconduct or sexual assault under Article 120, the seasoned court-martial defense attorneys at Elkus, Sisson, and Rosenstein, PC will offer you zealous representation defending these serious charges. Call us today at 719-247-3111for a free consultation. From our offices in Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado, we represent soldiers of all ranks, in all branches, both here and abroad.


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