While you’re active in the military, if you face charges for a crime, you will face those charges under the Unified Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The UCMJ is very different from the law of the state you may be in, and so are the penalties. Sex crimes, in particular, carry significant penalties.
How significant are the penalties?
The risks you may face will obviously match the criminal charges you face. Specifically, UCMJ article 120 covers sexual assaults and describes the definition of sexual assault and rape under military law.
For sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault, you may face:
- Prison time
- Reductions in rank
- Loss of benefits and pay
However, if the court-martial finds you guilty of rape, you may even face the death penalty.
UCMJ, Rape, And The Death Penalty
In the history of the military, you will find that several acts are punishable by death. A vast majority of these include wartime offenses, including going AWOL or disobeying orders.
However, rape has been on and off the list of capital offenses over the years. The Supreme Court settled this question in 2020. The court found that the military had the right to include rape as a capital offense. This ruling reversed an earlier ruling by a lower court.
Charges do not mean convictions.
Just because you’re facing charges of sexual assault or rape under the UCMJ does not mean you will be convicted. You still have many rights as a soldier and as a citizen of the United States, and one of those is the right to skilled, aggressive representation.