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What techniques do police use in UCMJ sexual assault investigations?

 In ARTICLE 120, ARTICLE 120b, Blog, Investigations

UCMJ sexual assault or rape is one of the most serious of all crimes in the military. In fact, most military courts-martial and court-martial appeals are for Article 120 UCMJ sexual assault cases. The military tends to enforce other, less serious violations of the UCMJ crimes through adverse administrative action like non-judicial punishment, letters or memorandums of reprimand, or adverse involuntary separation from the service. Service members Investigated for sexual assault in the military need an experienced Army Sexual Assault Lawyer.  A sexual assault lawyer with experience in any of the military services. can make the difference between conviction and acquittal at a court-martial.

A person being investigated for sexual assault in the military will likely find their life turned upside down. Due to the seriousness of such crimes and the renewed emphasis of congress and the military to obtain convictions, investigators are especially vigorous when investigating sexual assault.

Service members should understand what they are facing when under investigation for sexual assault in the military. After reading this article, your next step should be to contact experienced Military Sexual Assault Lawyer Peter Kageleiry, Jr. immediately to begin preparing your defense and learn about your legal rights during the investigation process.

How the military defines rape

Before diving deeper into a discussion of how rape charges are established via a criminal investigation, it’s important to understand the definition of rape according to the UCMJ. The old 2012 version of Article 120, UCMJ, took up half a page in the Manual for Courts-Martial. The current version of Article 120, invents new sexual assault offenses and includes two full pages in the Manual for Courts-Martial.

Rape is defined as a type of sexual assault involving unwanted sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual activity carried out under certain circumstances.

These circumstances around UCMJ sexual assault include sexual activity involving:

  • Force
  • Lack of consent
  • Incapacity
  • Coercion

Arresting someone under investigation for sexual assault in the military

Article 120 is the same across the services. A person being investigated for sexual assault in the military will find themselves facing the same investigation techniques regardless of service. A great deal of attention is paid to the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard because this is the level of proof required to convict a person of a crime. Simply put, the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” establishes a very high standard to convict a person of a crime. This high standard is needed to avoid wrongly convicting someone of Article 120.

However, the standard to arrest a person investigated for sexual assault in the military is far lower. If an investigator has probable cause, they can obtain an arrest warrant.

Probable cause is when an investigator has demonstrated that a crime has been committed and that it is more likely than not that the individual targeted for arrest perpetrated a rape, or some other type of sexual assault.

High-pressure sexual assault investigation techniques

Sex assault law enforcement investigators are notorious for using high-pressure investigation techniques when trying to obtain a conviction for UCMJ sexual assault. Examples of what rape investigators will do in their efforts to arrest a person they believe responsible for the crime include:

  • Intense interrogation of a suspect
  • Make false representations to a suspect
  • Secretly record conversations between a suspect and the alleged victim
  • Text a suspect from the alleged victim’s phone to elicit an incriminating response

What happens when a suspect learns of a rape investigation?

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A suspect may be unaware that they are being targeted by law enforcement investigators until much later into the investigation. After spending time gathering evidence, a military rape or sexual assault investigator will typically approach a suspect seeking an interview.

The request to get an interview may include lies intended to get the suspect to cooperate. An example of this is when the investigator says they can help clear the suspect if they will come in voluntarily. However, law enforcement investigator has no authority to make any type of promises or commitments to a suspect. Only the prosecuting attorney has that authority, and even that is limited. In the end, the military judge has the ultimate power, including the discretion to ignore a plea agreement reached in a criminal case.

In some cases, law enforcement may attempt to obtain a statement from a suspect early in the investigatory process. When that happens, it is a sign that investigators are having a hard time gathering sufficient evidence to support an arrest warrant request. That is why its critical to not make any statements to investigators without an experienced Army sexual assault lawyer or a lawyer with experience with sex assault cases in any of the services. Investigators rely on a suspect’s statements to close their cases. Don’t give them any help. False confessions are a real possibility as well.

Protect your legal rights with an experienced Army Sexual Assault Lawyer

Proactively seeking legal assistance is vital if you are under investigation for UCMJ sexual assault or a if a loved one learns of a pending UCMJ Article 120 investigation. Suspects should never submit to a law enforcement interview or make a statement until they have consulted with a defense lawyer. There is no obligation to sit for a police interview or make a statement. An experienced defense attorney can determine when a statement is advisable. Even innocent statements made during a police interrogation can be misconstrued. A suspect can find themselves being walked through so many open doors in interrogation that an investigator can corner them into making a statement they never intended to make. Thus, because of the hazards and risks associated with a law enforcement interview, an experienced Army sexual assault lawyer, or a lawyer with experience in any of the services, may recommend a suspect not speak to the police.


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