UCMJ – United States Code of Military Justice


10. Punitive Articles

(a) Any person subject to this chapter who commits an act of sexual intercourse with a female not his wife, by force and without consent, is guilty of rape and shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.

(b) Any person subject to this chapter who, under circumstances not amounting to rape, commits an act of sexual intercourse with a female not his wife who has not attained the age of sixteen years, is guilty of carnal knowledge and shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

(c) Penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete either of these offenses.

16 Comments for this entry

  • Edward Vierheller

    Article 120, with its “female not his wife” and “punished by death” phrases, reads like something from the English penal code circa the 17th or 18th century and has no place American jurisprudence, even in an anachronistic legal system like the UCMJ.

  • Jan

    You need to update this information. The UCMJ has undergone at least two revisions since the information as you have it posted was correct. A woman not his wife was deleted many years ago, and the article was comepletly redone in 2007. There has also been a recent change to the law for which the UCMJ Art 120 will again need to be revised.

  • PJ DeHoog

    Rape is not only a physical violation it is the murder of the spirit. Death is used in cases like murder so why should this be different? Note, however, that the article gives the judges leeway to attach a different punishment if they see fit.
    As a female veteran I see no issue with this in any century.

  • lopez

    has the attained age of sixteen changed? and does that sentence mean that the military personnal who is single is allowed to protrade a relationship with a 16 year old or even an 17 year old?

    • PoeticallyPondering9

      Why not? I believe that as long as their is respect, love, and loyalty then age cannot defy or deny a relationship. I’m sixteen and I’ve been through a federal case that involved the age of consent. This man, who is twenty five, had been wrong, for I was practically his student. But the relationship, I am entering right now is something beautiful and perfect and brilliant and wonderful and right. He turned nineteen in February and I’ll be seventeen in August. We met my sophmore year, when he was a senior and we’ve been friends, talking on and off ever since. We were planning on starting a Platonic relationship in November, but then life swallowed me up and he left for Marine training camp… But then, yesterday I had a dream of him, and I knew it was gifted to me for a reason. I was drowning in my recent past and he brought me to the surface. We began with our usual intellectual stimuli, pondering madness and the universe, and then things took a romantic turn and we knew we needed each other. I gave him hope for humanity and himself and he gave me the hope to keep living, that all my dreams of love have not been crushed forever… It sounds silly and cheesy and super mushy, but is that so wrong? For an always thinking nineteen year old marine and an eternally dreaming sixteen year old writer to be together? I don’t think so. I don’t think it could be anymore right! :).

      • Tyler

        Have you seen transformers? The new one? And the two could be together set by the Romeo and juliet factor ? Well that is an actual thing. Which is if you had a relationship before he turned 18 then it is okay to persue your relationship. And in most (not all) they do a 2 up and 2 down rule. Saying if he’s 19 and your 17 that is considered okay. And in most (not all) states the legal age of consent is 16. So your alright right there in that circumstance.

    • Mike

      US Soldiers are allowed to have sex with 16 year olds while on US soil. That is the age of consent in America. May I ask what it is in your country?

      US soldiers outside US soil are restricted to have sex with no one under 12.

      • Charles Courtnay

        As a man of GOD and a veteran. I find sex with any child(under 21) reprehensible. The UCMJ needs to be changed to read that if a military individual has consensual sex with anyone under the age of 21. It should be punishable under this article. Whether in the United States or another nation. Our nation(United States) condones promiscuity. As a nation founded on the principles of the Judeo-Christian ethic and the principles formulated in the Bible. We need to be promoting abstinence rather than the promiscuous life style.

        • BigG

          Shut up, you ignorant fool. Do you really think we should punish people severely for doing what our natures tell us do do? Put anyone who has sex before the age of 21 to DEATH? Radical Christians are as retarded as radical Muslims…people like you drive others away from religion—thanks for helping the Devil in his work, jackass!

        • Retired Captain

          Military law must be based on facts. Your 5000-year-old Palestinian myth of the god Yahweh has no more bearing on 21st century law than the 6000-yeaar-old Persian myth of the god Mithra.

          The only real difference between the two mythological gods is that a Roman emperor declared the Christian religion to be the only allowed religion in the empire from England to Spain to Turkey to Africa. All the other gods were forgotten over 1600 years, and now otherwise educated people in America still actually believe in invisible sky gods rising from the dead, walking on water, etc. It’s really pathetic.

        • Tyler

          Your not going to tell a 18 year old soldier he can’t have sex with his 18 year old girlfriend (who is respectfully and entitled to consider themselves adults especially if he is a soldier)

        • Jay Aycher

          Charles, God has nothing to do with military law, nor should God be involved in anything regarding law aside from the “biblical law” which is limited to those who place stock in it.

          As an Athiest I feel you trying to tout being a man of God as a source of your moral fiber is reprehensible. I’m a moral person, for no other reason than I care about my fellow man. Not because some myth will send me to a flaming forever if I do not.

  • Chavis

    If a guy and a girl is intoxicated but the girl, remembers bits and pieces of what happened but she does not remember if she had given the guy permission to have sex with her is that rape? She remembers the event but the guy finally admits what he thought the way that the girl describe is considered rape what would his and her charges be if they have to go to court? If the girl feels violated and loses sleep over this what should she do or what are the options that she have? Should she pursue to take any legal actions or not?

  • TH


    In regards to your question, the UCMJ just protects those under the age of 16. The state or country that you are in at the time of the offense may have stricter laws, and that member may still be guilty under those laws even if the other person IS 16 or older. It might be noted however, tham many states allow you to be with a 16 or 17 year old…there are only a few that are stricter than the UCMJ. As far as over seas, again the laws very widely.

  • tmurrjtjdw


    REALLY?!?!? That’s why sixteen yr olds don’t need to be in relationships.

  • Torell

    On concerns to this article 920, rape resulting in a pregnant female under the age under 16, this should be the topic defined under a carnal rape besides that explanation.I looked up the definition on the word carnal. Relating to appetites and passions of the body is one definition of the word carnal. I think this should be revised.

Leave a Reply


Looking for something?

Search the Uniform Code of Military Justice